The Dapps at King Records

Music writer/historian, Randy McNutt, in King Records of Cincinnati, points out the irony of “How You Gonna Get Respect (When You Haven’t Cut Your Process Yet)” – a Hank Ballard single “obviously aimed at the R&B market” – being voiced by mostly white musicians:

[James] Brown discovered [The Dapps] in Cincinnati’s Inner Circle nightclub and used the band on his and other performers’ recordings.  At various times the band included guitarist Troy Seals, who became a major Nashville songwriter; Tim Hedding, organ; Eddie Setser, guitar; Tim Drummond, bass; Les Asch, saxophone, and [William] Beau Dollar [Bowman], drums.

McNutt also notes the band’s shared history with Jo Ann Campbell prior to the formation of The Dapps, in The Cincinnati Sound:

Petite vocalist Jo Ann Campbell made her mark as a 1950s recording artist who appeared on disc jockey Alan Freed’s live rock-and-roll shows.  She recorded an answer song called “I’m the Girl on Wolverton Mountain.”  By 1964, however, she had married Troy Seals, a Fairfield, Ohio, bass player [born in Bighill, KY] who had toured with Lonnie Mack and other Cincinnati acts.  Campbell and Seals moved to Cincinnati, formed their own white soul band called The Cincinnati Kids, and started performing at the Inner Circle near the University of Cincinnati.  The band was one of the hottest acts in town.  When Campbell became pregnant, she dropped out, and the band evolved into the Dapps.

Image courtesy of Dave Parkinson —
CLICK on image TO VIEW IN HIGH RESOLUTION

[L to R] Dave Parkinson; Eddie Setser; Jo Ann Campbell; Troy Seals;
Tina, the “designated” go-go dancer; Tim HedDing; Doug Huffman

.*

Don TigerMartin, one of The Great Drummers of R&B, Funk & Soul and an early member of The J.B.’s, shared his memories of The Dapps in 1996 with drummer, educator and historian, Jim Payne:

Sometimes we come and watch the Dapps, an all-white band.  You remember the white guy who used to be like James [Brown] — Wayne Cochran?  Well, he used to come to town all the time and everybody would go and see him.  His band was real tough [Jaco Pastorius played bass for Cochran – Jim Payne notes].  Well, the Dapps had a better white band than him.  They were so cold they were ridiculous!  ‘Beau Dollar’ played drums and sang lead, and they had another drummer named Ron Grayson, who was bad.  Ron could play right-handed or left-handed.  Tim Drummond, the bass player, was also in the Dapps.

Prior to becoming The Dapps, the group had already released two 45s under the name, Beau Dollar and the Coins.  The band’s second single features a classic arrangement of “Soul Serenade” that is, in fact, a track produced by Lonnie Mack for Fraternity Records, with Chuck Sullivan on lead guitar, Wayne Bullock on Hammond B-3, and Bill Jones on bass   According to Stuart Colman‘s liner notes from the Ace UK anthology, Lonnie Mack — From Nashville to Memphis:

“Sax supremo King Curtis could hardly have imagined the kind of track record that his immortal ‘Soul Serenade’ would one day generate.  Not long after its public debut, this mellifluous instrumental became part of the Lonnie Mack repertoire where it sat alongside such well-loved favourites as Don and Juan’s ‘What’s Your Name‘ and Bobby Parker’s ‘Watch Your Step‘.  The personnel of Lonnie’s road band at this point included guitarists Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, who’d previously worked together backing Johnny Tillotson and Tommy Roe, along with a remarkably solid drummer named Bill Hargis ‘Beau’ Bowman Jnr.  However, with a line-up that was in a constant state of flux the trio departed for pastures new, leaving the Lonnie Mack legend to take a significant turn during 1965 towards a musical enterprise known as Soul Incorporated.”

As Randy McNutt recalls in a piece from 2011 entitled “Who Knows Beau Dollar:

“Beau was the really funky one.  I remember hearing Beau Dollar and the Coins at a forgotten club in Middletown, about twelve miles north of Hamilton [Beau’s hometown].  Back then he had curly brown hair–sort of a white man’s afro–and sang some terrific blue-eyed soul.  He came up with his name as a play on Bo for Bowman; he paired it with dollar because of the natural connection:  a beau dollar, an old Southern term for silver dollar.  By the mid-1960s, Beau Dollar and the Coins had become one of the area’s more popular white soul bands, with a devoted following that enjoyed dancing.  Beau sometimes wore a fancy vest befitting his name–a beau, or a dandy. He seemed poised for the local radio charts

In those days, you could find white soul bands, many of them with good horn sections, in clubs throughout southwest Ohio–places called the Half-Way Inn (halfway between Hamilton and Middletown [and owned by the parents of guitarist, Sonny Moorman]), the Tiki Club in Hamilton County, and the Hawaiian Gardens in Cincinnati.”

Brian Powers‘ first-rate interview [42-minute mark] with saxophonist Dave Parkinson  (of Canton, Illinois) for Cincinnati’s WVXU answers so many questions about how Beau Dollar and The Dapps first converged:

“We were a popular band in the Cincinnati area called The Cincinnati Kids, and we were the house band at The Inner Circle, which is now Bogart’s.

INNER CIRCLE — ORIGINALLY 1890 VAUDEVILLE THEATER
[IMAGE COURTESY OF FORT THOMAS MATTERS]

“Troy Seals and Jo Ann Campell headed up the band, and I played saxophone, and Les Asch was the other saxophone player, and Eddie Setser — we called him “Fat Eddie” — was the guitarist.  Tim Hedding [sometimes spelled with one D] played keyboards, and Tim Drummond played bass with us for a time, although Troy Seals doubled on bass and sang a good amount of that time.  We had Ronnie Grayson play drums with us, and we had two or three different drummers.  Doug Huffman, who lives in Indianapolis now, played drums with us when I first joined the band.  I don’t recall any other drummers.  A good friend of ours was Beau Dollar, but Beau was more of an entity to himself, and he never actually played with the band.  He didn’t necessarily record with us at King that I remember, but I know he did some recording with James [Brown].  Beau was a big part of the music scene around the Cincinnati area.  He was a really good funky drummer and a great singer.

“I think James just started coming around The Inner Circle.  Of course, that was a big thrill for all of us, and he started to sit in occasionally with the band.  That was about the time “Cold Sweat” and “There Was a Time” — it was about that era, ’67-’68, I guess — and James became interested in the group.  That was a kind of delicate time racially, and I think James thought it might behoove him to become involved with white groups similar to ours.  We did a lot of soul and we did pop covers, too, but the rhythm and blues and soul was pretty much our forte.

[On how The Cincinnati Kids became The Dapps] “That would have been after we became disassociated with Troy and Jo Ann, and actually, James tagged the name The Believers on us, that was our first name with James.  We eventually turned into The Dapps.”

For this same 2018 WVXU broadcast, Brian Powers also interviewed Eddie Setser,  who wryly remarked, “It was hard to believe we got $45 for, like, a three-hour session.”  Setser informed Powers that their first studio collaboration, “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me),” was originally inspired by a riff from a jazz artist, possibly Kenny Burrell, but altered substantially enough by James Brown as to be unrecognizable. When asked to describe James Brown’s creative process, Setser told Powers:

“When he starts doing things, these arrangements are put together, he always does the drums first, then the bass.  He gets the groove going, then he’ll do the guitars and then, you know, the horns will do their thing. The keyboard works in there somewhere.  You get the groove going and you just keep playing it, you know what I’m sayin’?

One local music venue where the group enjoyed playing, located in the basement of Cincinnati’s Hotel Metropole, was called The Trip when The Dapps played there, says Setser, who added that later it became a club – Tommy Helms’ Dugout – named for the Reds’ second baseman (and later one of the first area discos, with “girls in cages” and all the frippery).

In this hotel’s basement once dwelled a club called The Trip

Zero to 180 spoke with both Les Asch and Dave Parkinson in May/June/July of 2020.  During our first phone conversation,  Dave Parkinson expressed his own confusion over the irony that “The Dapps” ended up being known as James Brown’s white backing band when, in fact, the original concept was to have a show band that featured black members of JB’s renowned live orchestra.

Parkinson auditioned for the group in late 1965 (possibly early 1966) at the Holly Oak in Indianapolis — a storied venue that once hosted Fats Domino, Little Richard, Wayne Cochran, Wayne Newton, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton, according to the fine folks at East Side Tire & Wheel.

This building – confirms East Side Tire & Wheel – was once the Holly Oak

Thanks to RoadArch.com companion for the helpful tip!

At the time of Parkinson’s audition, the group was named for its two lead artists, Jo Ann Campbell and Troy Seals who – as “Jo Ann and Troy” – recorded a pair of singles for Atlantic in 1964-65.  With regard to the band’s membership at the time of his audition, Parkinson, who played tenor sax and “a little alto,” recalls Seals and Roger Troy  sharing bass duties, with Eddie Setser on guitar, Tim Hedding on keyboards, and Doug Huffman on drums.

Soon after the audition, the group played a 10-week engagement at The Beachcomber in Seaside Heights, New Jersey “having more fun than anyone has a right,” according to Parkinson, who indicated that Ronnie Grayson also went along for the ride.

The Beachcomber — saved by sprinklers in massive 2013 boardwalk blaze

The band subsequently anchored itself in the Cincinnati area, playing the three big music clubs at the time:  The Inner Circle, Guys and Dolls, and The Roundup Club, the latter two venues located in nearby Northern Kentucky.  Les Asch joined the band during this period and recalled that the group — billed as Troy Seals and the Cincinnati Kids — had a regular Wednesday-through-Sunday engagement at The Inner Circle, with Jo Ann Campbell joining the group on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Guys and Dolls (formerly Grayson’s Inn) + Erlanger’s Roundup Club

Asch remembers Troy Seals bringing in another drummer, Tommy Matthews, when Ronnie Grayson (who would later play on Delaney Bramlett’s 1972 debut album with Tim Hedding) was recovering from injuries sustained in an auto accident.  During this recovery period, Seals would insist that Grayson remain a contributing band member.  Grayson, it turns out, had some trumpet experience, and thus was recruited for the horn section, where he played under the stage name, Ronnie Geisman.

After Grayson had healed, Tommy Matthews was then let go by Seals, prompting some of the band members — Eddie Setser, Tim Hedding, Les Asch and Dave Parkinson — to defect from the group temporarily to link up with Lonnie Mack, who was present at the Inner Circle when Matthews got his pink slip, according to Asch.

The Cincinnati Kids, with Lonnie Mack now at the helm (and Eddie Setser on bass), continued at the Inner Circle for another five to six weeks, says Asch, before Mack informed the group of an engagement in Florida at a place called Johnny’s Hideaway.  The gig proved a bust after only a couple weeks, however, when a liquor violation shut the club down.  Tim Hedding, fortunately, would field a phone call from Troy Seals, who informed the musicians of a work opportunity at a Hamilton, Ohio music venue named The Halfway House.  After locating a U-Haul trailer for Les Asch’s 1966 Plymouth Fury, the group then reformed in Cincinnati.

Tim Drummond (of Canton, Illinois) – Dave Parkinson’s original connection to the band – had almost certainly joined by this point.  According to Parkinson, “Tim joined us for a few months prior to when he left to go with the James Brown band” — sometime in 1967, by his estimation.  James Brown’s guest appearances with the band at The Inner Circle led to invitations to record at King Studios for other artists produced by Brown, such as Bobby Byrd, Marva Whitney, and James Crawford.

The Dapps backing James Brown @ The Trip
[L to R] Les Asch, Dave Parkinson; Panny Sarakatsannis; James Brown; Eddie Setser

Dave Thompson – in his Funk listening companion – states in the entry for “Beau Dollar & The Dapps” that James Brown “took the group into the studio that same year [1965] to cut the two-part ‘It’s a Gas‘ single, intended for release on King under the name the James Brown Dancers.”  However, “Brown’s then ongoing dispute with the label saw the single go unissued, but Brown kept tabs on the Dapps.”  By the way, you can now hear both sides of this unreleased 45 (originally slotted for February 1967), though the odd thing is, when you scrutinize Alan Leeds‘ musician credits for “It’s a Gas” on James Brown: The Singles, Volume 4 (1966-1967), none of the players are from The Dapps.

Q:  When do Troy Seals and the Cincinnati Kids (i.e., The Dapps) make their first appearance in Ruppli’s King Records sessionography?

A:  The session for James Brown’s “Why Did You Take Your Love Away From Me,” the lone track recorded at Cincinnati’s King Studios on April 27, 1967:

Special Note:  Les Asch (who plays baritone, tenor and/or alto saxophone) and Dave Parkinson (who plays primarily tenor) both agree that some of the horn credits below might have been unwittingly switched in the Ruppli session notes – a red asterisk (*), therefore, is used to indicate such instances.

> AUDIO LINK for “Why Did You Take Your Love Away
by James Brown [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown & Bud Hobgood

ACCORDING TO RUPPLI’S SESSION NOTES —

James Brown:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Piano
David Parkinson:  Tenor & Baritone Sax*
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
Ronnie Geisman:  Trumpet

“Why Did You Take Your Love Away” would end up on 1968’s, I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me album, whose rear cover reveals Brown’s endorsement deal with the Vox musical instrument company (whose guitars Eddie Setser did not enjoy as much as his Fender Telecaster and Gibson ES-335).

Rear cover — I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me

 

These twelve tracks were sold in Europe under a different title, This Is James Brown, (albeit with “Fat Eddie” as the final track rather than “Funky Soul #1), while in France and Israel, this same set was issued as Mr. Soul. (and in Argentina as El Rey Del Soul – “The King of Soul”).

US album cover       vs.        UK album cover

Germany — 1968                                       France — 1968

The Dapps returned to King Studios on August 8, 1967 to serve as Bobby Byrd‘s  backing band on “Funky Soul #1,” a song that calls out praises to key musical destinations — NYC, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, The Bay Area, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Detroit:

> AUDIO LINK for “Funky Soul #1 (Pts. 1 & 2)” by Bobby Byrd

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & James Crawford

ACCORDING TO RUPPLI’S SESSION NOTES —

Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Keyboard
David Parkinson:  Saxes*
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
Ronnie Geisman:  Trumpet

US 45 — 1968                                      Iran EP (c. 1968)

Ruppli’s session notes (below) indicate that this King master recording [K12439 “Funky Soul (Vol. 1)” = red star] was used as the backing track for James Brown‘s own recording of “Funky Soul #1” onto which Brown overdubbed organ at a King recording session [marked with a red circle] that took place exactly two weeks later on August 22, 1967.  Billboard‘s September 23, 1967 edition predicted Bobby Byrd’s version would “reach the R&B singles chart,” while the November 25, 1967 edition predicted Brown’s organ version would “reach the Hot 100 chart.”

Red star = “Funky Soul #1” master recording

This organ instrumental serves, fittingly, as the final track on 1968 LP I Can’t Stand When You Touch Me, as well as the B-side for “The Soul of JB” — although note that the 45 label credits “James Brown and the Famous Flames.”

Also notice in the King session notes posted above that James Crawford, one of the song’s authors, recorded “I’ll Work It Out” at King Studios on August 8, 1967 — the same date as the Bobby Byrd “Funky Soul #1 session — with “possibly same [personnel] as on K12439” [green circle].   Seems pretty reasonable to assume that The Dapps backed both vocalists that night.

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Work It Out
James Crawford backed by The Dapps?

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & James Crawford

Billboard predicted in its October 23, 1967 issue that “I’ll Work It Out” would “reach the R&B Singles chart.”  Cash Box‘s review in their November 4, 1967 edition:  “James Crawford could grab a nice piece of airplay with this feelingful, slow-paced, James Brown-produced moaner.  Give it a spin.  Flip: ‘Fat Eddie‘”  Record World gave it a “four-star single” with this review in the November 11, 1967 issue:  “Nitty gritty wild one here [‘Fat Eddie’].  James sings the slow ballad with all the soul he can muster [I’ll Work It Out].”

US — 1967                                    France — 1968

Marva Whitney would also have a go at “I’ll Work It Out” which found release in 1968 as a King 45 — is it possible that The Dapps provided musical backing on this recording?

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Work It Out” by Marva Whitney

The Dapps backed James Brown on the next (undated) session listed in Ruppli’s notes (wrongly attributed to “prob. band without James Brown“) that yielded “The Soul of J.B.” plus one ‘unknown title’ left in the can.

> AUDIO LINK for “The Soul of J.B.
by James Brown [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & Gladys Knochelman

According to Discogs

James Brown:  Organist, Arranger & Producer
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

US — Nov. 1967

James Brown – The Singles, Volume 5 (1967-1969) affirms that the same Dapps lineup above were the musical unit that laid down the sounds for “Just Plain Funk,” recorded August 30, 1967 and used as the B-side for “I Guess I’ll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry” — a single that saw release in both Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe] and South Africa.

> AUDIO LINK for “Just Plain Funk
by James Brown [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & Troy Seals

aCCORDING TO Discogs

Bobby Byrd [?]:  Organ
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

Italy — 1968                                             South Africa — 1968

One week after the “Just Plain Funk” session, Hank Ballard laid down a pair of tracks with unnamed musicians at the King Studios on September 7-8, 1967 that would be released as a King 45 — “Which Way Should I Turn” b/w “Funky Soul Train.”  Given that the A-side was written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood, Beau Dollar & Troy Seals, could it be possible that The Dapps backed Hank Ballard on these two tracks?

You might think that The Dapps served as the backing band on the James Crawford recording session at King Studios on September 14, 1967 that produced a song entitled “Fat Eddie” — undoubtedly named for guitarist “Fat” Eddie Setser.  However, you would be mistaken.

Ruppli’s session notes say that The Brownettes recorded a pair of songs on October 17, 1967 at King Studios — and nothing more.  Thanks to Nothing But Funk Volume 3, however, we can rejoice** in knowing the names of both the singers and players of instruments (as noted below):

> AUDIO LINK for “Never Find a Love Like Mine” by The Brownettes

> AUDIO LINK for “Baby Don’t You Know” by The Brownettes

Both sides written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & Troy Seals

ACCORDING TO Discogs

Grace Ruffin, Martha Harvin & Sandra Bears:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
Ronnie Geisman:  Trumpet

** Beware of the musician credits from the Nothing But Funk (bootleg) series, cautions Soul on Top (in the comment attached to this piece), as there are integrity issues.  Additionally, with regard to the Brownettes consisting of Grace Ruffin, Martha Harvin & Sandra Bears, notes Soul on Top, “this is doubtful, as the exact same track was released the following year by The De Vons, a trio of young singers from NYC also with the JB production logo.”

Is it a coincidence that the vinyl seller who has received the highest bid yet on Ebay ($82) for the Brownettes King 45 is also the one who added “Dapps” to the title of the auction?  Interesting to note that the 45 seller is from Japan.

Ruppli’s session notes state that Vicki Anderson recorded two songs at King Studios on October 23, 1967 with unnamed musical support.  1998’s double-disc celebration, James Brown’s Original Funky Divas, fortunately, named names, so we now know that The Dapps were Anderson’s backing band on these two tracks (as detailed below).  The A-side, interestingly, had already been recorded six days prior by The Brownettes, while the Lowman Pauling-penned B-side was originally recorded by The5Royales:

> AUDIO LINK for “Baby Don’t You Know
by Vicki Anderson [with The Dapps]

> AUDIO LINK for “The Feeling Is Real
by Vicki Anderson [with The Dapps]

ACCORDING TO Discogs

Vicki Anderson:  Vocals
William ‘Beau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Saxophone
Les Asch:  Saxophone

One week later on October 30, 1967, a lean contingent of The Dapps returned to King Studios to back James Brown on “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)”:

> AUDIO LINK for “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me) Pts. 1 & 2
by James Brown and the Famous Flames

Written by James Brown

ACCORDING TO RUPPLI’S SESSION NOTES —

James Brown:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ

Spain — Feb. 1968

Dave Parkinson points out that Tim Drummond enjoys the distinction of being the one band member called out by name (at the 2:50 mark) on this recording.

Troy Seals and the horn section then joined Brown on “Baby Baby Baby Baby,” recorded at that same session and included on 1968’s I Can’t Stand Myself LP:

> AUDIO LINK for “Baby Baby Baby Baby
by James Brown and the Famous Flames

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & James Crawford

ACCORDING TO RUPPLI’S SESSION NOTES —

James Brown:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ronnie Geisman:  Trumpet

By year’s end, The Dapps would finally get a recording session under their own name at King Studios on December 12, 1967.  But wait a minute, it’s not what you think — “The Dapps Featuring Alfred Ellis,” in this case, means Clyde Stubblefield (drums), Bernard Odum (bass), Jimmy Nolen & Alfonzo Kellum (guitars), Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis (tenor sax & arranger), and Maceo Parker (tenor sax), according to Alan Leeds’ liner notes for James Brown – The Singles Vol. 5 (1967-1969).  These musicians recorded two instrumental tracks at that session, “Bringing Up the Guitar” and “Gittin’ a Little Hipper.”

The Dapps first 7-inch release

A-Side by James Brown
B-Side by James Brown and Bud Hobgood

Cash Box‘s review from their February 3, 1968 issue:

Dapps (King 6147)

“Bringing Up the Guitar” (3:00)
[Dynatone, BMI-Brown] James Brown
penned instrumental that carries a zest
which could score with r&b audiences.
Very fine staccato track with plenty of
dance appeal.  Flip: “Gittin’ A Little Hipper”
(2:59) [Golo, BMI-Brown, Hobgood]

March 5, 1968 was an especially productive day at King Studios, according to Ruppli:

THE DAPPS:
Incl. Alfred Ellis                                               Cincinnati, March 5, 1968

K12588   The Rabbit Got the Gun                   King 6169
K12589   I’ll Give You Odds                             unissued

VICKI ANDERSON:
Vicki Anderson (vo) with prob. same band      Same date

K12590   I’ll Work It Out                                   King 6221, 6251; Brownstone 4204

BOBBY BYRD:
Bobby Byrd (vo) with prob. same band            Same date

K12591   My Concerto                                      King 6165, LP1118

JAMES BROWN:
James Brown (vo, org) Bobby Byrd or Timothy Hedding (p) Eddie Setser (g) Tim Drummond (el b) William Bowman (dm).          Cincinnati, March 5, 1968

K12592   Shhhhhhhh (For a Little While)          King 6164, LP1031
K12593   Here I Go                                                          —            —

James Brown (vo, p) Eddie Setser (g) Tim Drummond (el b) William Bowman (dm).  Same date.

K12594   Maybe I’ll Understand (pt. 1)              King LP1031, LP1047
K12595   Maybe I’ll Understand (pt. 2)                        —               —

Notice the musician credits listed for “Shhhhhhhh (For a Little While)” and “Here I Go” (released as a King 45 that “bubbled under” the Hot 100, you might recollect) — both songs also included on 1968 LP I Got the Feelin’:

> AUDIO LINK for “Shhhhhhhh (For a Little While)
by James Brown and the Famous Flames

Written by James Brown and Bud Hobgood

According to Discogs

James Brown:  Organ
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Piano

Brazil — 1968

But then check out the musician credits for “Here I Go” as supplied by Alan Leeds in James Brown – The Singles Vol. 5 (1967-1969), and notice the inclusion of two horn players:

> AUDIO LINK for “Here I Go
by James Brown and the Famous Flames

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & Ron Lenhoff

According to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Piano
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax
Ronnie Geisman:  Trumpet

Ruppli’s session notes above indicate that three members of The Dapps backed James Brown on “Maybe I’ll Understand (Pts. 1 & 2)” at this same March 5, 1968 session:

> AUDIO LINK for “Maybe I’ll Understand
by James Brown

Written by James Brown and Bud Hobgood

According to Ruppli’s session notes —

James Brown:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
[Tim Hedding:  Piano]*

These Discogs credits* credit Tim Hedding for piano on “Maybe I’ll Understand” (though not on Ruppli’s notes above).

But take one last critical look at the Ruppli session notes for March 5, 1968 and notice that the Bobby Byrd track (“My Concerto”), as well as the Vicki Anderson recording (“I’ll Work It Out”) both indicate “with probably same band” as the one listed at the very beginning of the list — The Dappswithout actually naming any of the musicians who played on “Rabbit Got the Gun” and “I’ll Give You Odds,” vexingly enough, other than Alfred Ellis.

> AUDIO LINK for “My Concerto
by Bobby Byrd [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Fred Wesley & Bobby Byrd

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Work It Out
by Vicki Anderson [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & James Crawford

> AUDIO LINK for “Rabbit Got the Gun
by The Dapps Featuring Alfred Ellis

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & Reggie Lavong

The Dapps second 45

“There Was a Time” — you might recall — came close to cracking Billboard‘s Hot 100.  Cash Box‘s review in their June 15, 1968 edition [musician credits further down]:

“James Brown produced this has-to-be-heard instrumental reworking of his while back hit.  Albert [sic] Ellis’ hard driving sax stirs this side to a frenzy sure to make it a disko favorite.  Should produce good sales.  Flip: ‘The Rabbit Got The Gun‘.”

As was also recently noted, future Neil Young and Bob Dylan bassist, Tim Drummond, played the famous funk lines on  “Licking Stick Licking Stick” — one of five James Brown sides recorded at Cincinnati’s King Studios on April 16, 1968, along with two others by different vocalists:

Ruppli’s King session notes [pg. 397]

K12597  Licking Stick, Licking Stick (Pt. 1)
K12598  Little Fellow [instrumental]
K12599  Go On Now [instrumental]
K12600  Fat Soul [instrumental]
K12601  Licking Stick, Licking Stick (Pt. 2) = James Brown [April 16, 1968]

K12602  You’re Still Out of Sight [unissued] = Bobby Byrd [April 16, 1968?]
K12603/123604  no information (rejected titles)
K12605  You’re Still Out of Sight = Leon Austin “with probably same band”  [April 16, 1968]

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals & Organ
John Sparks:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Jimmy Nolen:  Guitar
Maceo Parker:  Tenor Sax
Alfred Ellis:  Alto Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax

April 29, 1968 also ended up being a particularly productive day of recording at King Studios, as indicated by Ruppli‘s session notes:

THE BELIEVERS:
(actually The Dapps)

K12606    I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow
.               (Than I Was Yesterday)                              King 6201
K 12607   A Woman, A Lover, A Friend                             —

MARVA WHITNEY:
Marva Whitney (vo) with prob. James Brown band   Cincinnati, April 29, 1968

K12608   Things Got to Get Better                             King 6168

JAMES BROWN:
Prob. same band                                                        Same date

K12609   Soul With Different Notes                            King LP1034

THE DAPPS:
Incl. Alfred Ellis                                                            Same date

K12610   In the Middle                                                 King 6205
K12611   There Was a Time  (instr.)                             King 6169

I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Yesterday)” b/w “A Woman, A Lover, A Friend” is the third King 45 to be credited to “The Dapps” — Ruppli’s notes above from an undated session do not name any musicians, however.  Guesses anyone?

A-Side by Stanley Poindexter, Jackie Members & Robert Poindexter
B-Side by Sidney Wyche

Tim Drummond is the sole Dapps member to perform on Marva Whitney’s “Things Got to Get Better,” in addition to funk instrumental, “In the Middle” and a horn-heavy take on “There Was a Time.”  :

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Jimmy Nolen:  Guitar
Alfonzo Kellum:  Guitar
James Brown:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
Waymon Reed:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
Levi Rasbury:  Valve Trombone

Ruppli’s session notes above say that the musicians used for Marva Whitney’s “Things Got to Get Better” is “probably the same band” who backed James Brown on “Soul With Different Notes” — used as the eight-minute opening track for 1968’s James Brown Plays Nothing But Soul.  Zero to 180 just noticed that the B-side “What Kind of Man” (co-written by Troy Seals) is not listed in the Ruppli sessionography, though the presumption is that its recording took place at the same April 29, 1968 session.

Worthy of mention:  Two of The Dapps — Les Asch & Dave Parkinson — participated in a June 27, 1968 New York City recording session that produced six songs that were included on Thinking About Little Willie John And a Few Nice Things, plus one that ended up (“Let Them Talk”) on Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud [click on song titles below for streaming audio].

ACCORDING TO RUPPLI’S SESSION NOTES —

James Brown:  Vocals
Bernard Purdie:  Drums
Al Lucas:  Bass
Wallace Richardson:  Guitar
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Organ & Piano
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
John Grimes:  Trumpet
Waymon Reed:  Trumpet
Sammy Lowe:  Music Director

» “A Cottage for Sale” «
» “Suffering With the Blues” «
» “Home at Last” «
» “Talk to Me, Talk to Me” «
» “Heartbreak (It’s Hurtin’ Me)” «
» “Bill Bailey” «
» “Let Them Talk” «

Back in Cincinnati at King Studios the following night, June 28, 1968, Hank Ballard laid down two songs that were released as a King 45.  Ruppli’s session notes do not list any musicians, but thanks to Nothing But Funk Volume 4, we now know** who provided musical support on “I’m Back to Stay” — a track you won’t find on Ballard’s 1968 album, You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down:

> AUDIO LINK for “I’m Back To Stay
by Hank Ballard [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Hank Ballard, Reggie Lavong & Lucky Cordell

According to Discogs

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
Pee Wee Ellis:  Alto Saxophone

** Beware of the musician credits from the Nothing But Funk (bootleg) series, cautions Soul on Top (in the comment attached to this piece), as there are integrity issues.

Likewise, thanks to **Nothing But Funk Volume 2, we can see who’s behind the big horn sound on the flip side, “Come on Wit’ It” — although, I am a bit surprised to see such a vastly different lineup, with only one member of The Dapps overlapping between the two bands recorded the same night at King Studios:

> AUDIO LINK for “Come On Wit’ It
by Hank Ballard

Written by James Brown, Hank Ballard & Bud Hobgood

According to Discogs

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Alphonso Kellum:  Guitar
Jimmy Nolen:  Guitar
James Brown:  Piano
Maceo Parker:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
Waymon Reed:  Trombone
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
Levi Rasbury:  Valve Trombone

“Come on Wit’ It” was predicted by Billboard “to reach the R&B Singles chart” in their July 20, 1968 editionCash Box‘s singles review from their July 27, 1968 edition:  “Hank Ballard, absent from the hit scene for quite some time, makes his comeback bid with this pulsating, highly danceable outing which is vaguely autobiographical.  Good juke box & disko item.  Flip: ‘Come On Wit’ It’.”

Sometime in July of 1968 (best guess), The Dapps recorded two songs (likely at King Studios) that remain unissued, according to Ruppli’s session notes — “Who Knows” and “I Can’t Stand Myself.”

Record World — Aug. 17, 1968

Photo included in “James Brown,Joey Bishop Show – ‘Man to Man'”

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On September 6, 1968, James Brown recorded an organ instrumental with The Dapps at King Studios entitled “Shades of Brown” (a.k.a., “A Note or Two”):

> AUDIO LINK for “Shades of Brown
by James Brown [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown

According to Discogs

James Brown:  Organ
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
[unknown]:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Tenor Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*

B-side in Japan (left) and Germany (right)

On September 11, 1968, according to Ruppli, Hank Ballard was joined by The Dapps at King Studios to record two songs that got released as a King 45 plus an early attempt at “Thrill on the Hill” (that remains unissued) — thanks to Nothing But Funk Volume 4 for providing **musician credits:

> AUDIO LINK for “How You Gonna Get Respect (When You Haven’t Cut Your Process Yet)”
by Hank Ballard Along With “The Dapps”

Written by James Brown, Hank Ballard & Bud Hobgood

According to Discogs

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
John ‘JaboStarks:  Drums
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Charles Summers:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Saxophone
Les Asch:  Saxophone
Ken Tibbetts:  Trumpet
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

** Beware of the musician credits from the Nothing But Funk (bootleg) series, cautions Soul on Top (in the comment attached to this piece), as there are integrity issues.

“How You Gonna Get Respect” peaked at #15 on Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart on December 14, 1968.

> AUDIO LINK for “Teardrops on Your Letter
by Hank Ballard Along With “The Dapps”

Written by Henry Glover

Same Hank Ballard recording session = Per Discogs

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
John ‘JaboStarks:  Drums
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Charles Summers:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Saxophone
Les Asch:  Saxophone
Ken Tibbetts:  Trumpet
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

1968 single — France

Inferring from Ruppli’s session notes, October 1968 is approximately when The Dapps (thanks to these musician credits supplied by Alan Leeds) backed James Brown on three recordings for the Thinking About Little Willie John LP — “I’ll Lose My Mind” plus “What Kind of Man” (co-written by Eddie Setser and Troy Seals) and “You Gave My Heart a Song to Sing.”

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Lose My Mind
by [The Dapps Along With Bobby Byrd]

Written by James Brown, Bobby Byrd & Bud Hobgood

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Tim Hedding:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

> AUDIO LINK for “What Kind of Man
by [The Dapps Along With Bobby Byrd]

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood, Eddie Setser & Troy Seals

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Tim Hedding:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

> AUDIO LINK for “You Gave My Heart A Song To Sing
by [The Dapps Along With Bobby Byrd]

Written by James Brown, Bobby Byrd & Bud Hobgood

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Troy Seals:  Guitar
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Tim Hedding:  Piano
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Ron Geisman:  Trumpet

The Dapps returned to King Studios on October 23, 1968 to back The Soul Believers on a pair of tracks that comprised a King 45 — “I’m With You” and “I Don’t Want Nobody’s Troubles”:

> AUDIO LINK for “I Don’t Want Nobody’s Troubles
by The Soul Believers With The Dapps

Written by Orlonzo Bennett

According to Discogs

The Soul Believers: Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Tim Drummond:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Saxophone
Les Asch:  Saxophone
Ken Tibbetts:  Trumpet

Expect to shell out three figures for a vintage copy of this 45 (someone just recently forked over $540).

B-side written by Lowman Pauling — one of ‘5’ Royales’ final King A-sides

Ruppli’s notes indicate that The Dapps recorded a version of “White Christmas” (presumably at King Studios) c. mid-November 1968 that remains ‘unissued.’

Les Asch and Dave Parkinson both recall The Dapps supporting James Brown at Madison Square Garden, a concert we know to have taken place November 22, 1968, thanks to Asch’s mother, who purchased this program on the night of the performance:

Image courtesy of Les Asch —
CLICK on image TO VIEW IN HIGH RESOLUTION

Menu for May 8, 1968 White House State Dinner attended by James Brown
(included in Madison Square Garden concert program)


[Thank you, Maralah Rose-Asch]

.

James Brown Scores Knockout With Soul Music at the Garden” was the title of Robert Shelton’s review in the November 23, 1968 edition of the New York Times.  Dave Parkinson remembers Count Basie and Slappy White (et al.) being on the bill that night.

It was during this same New York City visit that Hank Ballard & the Dapps appeared on the November 27, 1968 episode of The Merv Griffin Show, along with James Brown  (plus Lily Tomlin early in her career).

The Dapps on The Merv Griffin Show [clockwise from rear]:

Ken Tibbetts (valve trombone); [unnamed] “English” trumpeter; Bob Thorn (trumpet)
Jerry Love (drums); Eddie Setser (guitar); Les Asch (tenor sax)
Dave Parkinson (tenor sax); Howie McGurty (baritone sax)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dapps-on-Merv-Griffin-Show-Nov-1968-a-edited-1.jpg

[Dapps Photos courtesy of Dave Parkinson]

Indianapolis News TV listing for December 4, 1968

Parkinson also recalls The Dapps accompanying James Brown as guests at The Apollo Theater, where they were acknowledged from the stage by Joe Tex and Little Johnny Taylor.

The Dapps – along with The Sisters of Righteous (sisters Geneva “Gigi” Kinard and Denise Kinard together with cousin Roberta DuBois) – would next back James Brown at a King recording session that took place December 2, 1968 and yielded two songs, “Sometime” and “I’m Shook,” plus one track – “Bobby Kaie” – that was ultimately ‘rejected.’

> AUDIO LINK for “Sometime
by James Brown [with The Dapps & The Sisters of Righteous]

Written by James Brown and Bud Hobgood

According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
GenevaGigiKinard:  Backing Vocals
Denise Kinard: Backing Vocals
Roberta Dubois: Backing Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Bob Thorn:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax
Ronald Lewis:  Baritone Sax

B-side of this German 45 — released Nov. 1969

> AUDIO LINK for “I’m Shook
by James Brown [with The Dapps & The Sisters of Righteous]

Written by James Brown

According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
GenevaGigiKinard:  Backing Vocals
Denise Kinard: Backing Vocals
Roberta Dubois: Backing Vocals
WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Bob Thorn:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax
Ronald Lewis:  Baritone Sax

My eyebrows go up as I read these notes on Discogs related to the “I’m Shook” 45:

“[45] Never got a full distribution.  Most copies were probably pulled back for unknown reasons and a few quantities of this exist.  Both tracks [“I’m Shook” b/w “Little Groove Maker Me“] feature on It’s A Mother.  ‘I’m Shook’ is a different recording than featured on the album.”

Ruppli’s sparse notes also indicate an undated session (early December 1968?) in which Hank Ballard was supported by unnamed members of The Dapps on two recordings, “You’re So Sexy” and “Thrill on the Hill.”  Just before the guitar break on “You’re So Sexy” (around the 1:20 mark), Hank calls out “Fat Eddie, play your thing” — so at least we know that Eddie Setser was part of the backing ensemble.

> AUDIO LINK for “You’re So Sexy
by Hank Ballard Along With The Dapps

Written by James Brown, Hank Ballard & Bud Hobgood

Ruppli then follows with two entries for December 10, 1968 at King Studios — (a) the first session has Hank Ballard recording “How You Gonna Get Respect” with unnamed musicians plus two ‘unknown titles’ — all three tracks unissued; (b) the second entry is for The Dapps, with one attempt at a track named “Later for the Saver” that remains in the vaults.

Feb 1969 concert poster — image courtesy of SuperSoulSound.com

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Who Knows” — recorded by The Dapps c. July 1968 though kept in the can — finally got a release by King, although attributed solely to Beau Dollar, as the B-side of his second and final King single, “(I Wanna Go) Where the Soul Trees Grow”:

> AUDIO LINK for “Who Knows
by Beau Dollar [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown, Bud Hobgood & William ‘Beau Dollar’ Bowman

According to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Bobby Byrd:  Tamborine
Charles Summers:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tm Hedding:  Organ
David Parkinson:  Saxophone
Les Asch:  Saxophone
Kenny Tibbetts:  Trumpet

How curious to discover that in 1992 Pure Records, a French boutique label, decided to pair Beau Dollar’s “Who Knows” with a funk track by Lee Majors (“The Bull Is Coming“) for a twelve-inch “maxi-single.”

According to Ruppli’s session notes, Beau Dollar, along with unnamed musicians, recorded 21 songs over the course of three days [January 20-22, 1970] most likely at King Studios — 12 selected for King LP 1099 (to be titled Beau Dollar), plus 9 other tracks that remain ‘unissued’ to this day.  The funny thing, however, is how utterly impossible it is to retrieve an image of the album cover on the Internet.  Ruppli refers to King LP 1099 as an actual release, yet Discogs has no entry (yet) for this King LP.  The King LP discography at Both Sides Now Publications references it by catalog number and album title but no cover image, curiously, nor song titles (the latter which you will find listed at 1540brewster.com).

There are a few other ‘unissued’ Beau Dollar recordings from 1969 (“My Concerto”; “Looking For Someone to Love”; “But It’s Alright”; “I Gotta Get Away From You”) in addition to the outtakes from Beau Dollar’s alleged LP (“Funky Street”; “Everybody’s Talkin'”; “Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye”; “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”) that remain in the vault.

Fast forward to 1971 — 45Cat’s RogerFoster points out that “Just Won’t Do Right” by Lyn Collins “is actually a duet with James Brown and according to the booklet notes by Alan Leeds in the 2009 CD compilation James Brown – The Singles Volume Seven: 1970-1972 this was to be released with Mr. Brown being the headline act on King 6373 but only promos were made.”  Ruppli gives no indication as to when Collins made this recording at King Studios with The Dapps:

> AUDIO LINK for “Just Won’t Do Right
by Lyn Collins [with The Dapps]

Written by James Brown

According to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
Julius Reliford:  Congas
Dave Harrison:  Bass
Eddie Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Organ
AlfredPee WeeEllis:  Alto Sax
Les Asch:  Tenor Sax*
David Parkinson:  Baritone Sax*
Howard McGurty: Trumpet
Ken Tibbetts: Trumpet

“Just Won’t Do Right” was picked by Record World as one of its “Hits of the Week” in the January 8, 1972 issue and praised thusly:  “James Brown both wrote and produced this impressive debut disc.  Powerful r&b ballad of the kind that crosses-over pop so often these days.”

“Just Won’t Do Right” was the B-side to “Wheels of Life” when released in France with a charming sleeve designed by noted graphic designer, Jean-Claude Trambouze, who also did complementary designs for a dozen other James Brown productions out of the King studios.

1968 FRENCH B-SIDE
SLEEVE DESIGNED BY JEAN-CLAUDE TRAMBOUZE

Dapps Chart Trivia

Joel Whitburn Presents Across the Charts: The 1960s has an entry for “The Dapps Featuring Alfred Ellis” that identifies two 45s:

(1) “There Was a Time” (King 6169), which bubbled under Billboard’s Hot 100 at #103, and (2) “How You Gonna Get Respect (When You Haven’t Cut Your Process Yet),” (King 6196) which peaked at #15 on Billboard‘s R&B chart.

By 1970, The Dapps had disaffiliated itself with the James Brown organization.  According to Les Asch, the first fissure occurred early on when Brown’s studio manager, Bud Hobgood, attempted to get the group under contract, only to find out that Troy Seals and Jo Ann Campbell were already signed to Atlantic Records.  Ultimately, The Dapps ended up working for James Brown without any contractual arrangement.  As Dave Parkinson confessed to Bob Miller in 1991:

“If I’d stuck with Troy [Seals] I would be quite well off today.  But Troy was a lot more patient than the band, we had stars in our eyes and when we got an offer to join James Brown’s production company, it was a mass defection.”

During the James Brown years, recalls Les Asch, Beau Dollar was first accorded bandleader duties within The Dapps, followed by Dave Parkinson and then Asch.  At one Dapps rehearsal held at The Inner Circle, Asch made the “mistake” of admitting (perhaps in the egalitarian spirit of the times) that, as bandleader, he was being paid double.  When band members balked, Asch met with Mr. Brown to inform him that this differentiated pay scale was “killing morale.”  Brown, however, was not only unsympathetic but profoundly disappointed that Asch would make such a tactical error as the band’s musical director.  At that point, relations between The Dapps and the James Brown organization would cease.

When asked by Brian Powers why The Dapps broke up, Eddie Setser had this to say:

“[Bud Hobgood] kept saying we were gonna be making all this money, big money.  Thought we were doing pretty good, but he put us on a retainer, and the guys didn’t like it.  Hank Ballard came and told us, he said, “You ain’t gonna be making any money. He says, “You’re all gonna be paid the same thing” … the thing just kind of blew up.”

The Dapps, however, carried on with that name for somewhere between six months to a year, reckons Asch, with The Golden Lion, a short jaunt up Interstate 75 in Dayton, essentially serving as base of operations.  Dave Parkinson informed Brian Powers in that same interview for WVXU how The Dapps first joined forces with Roger “Jellyroll” Troy (née McGaha):

“After The Dapps had become disassociated with James [Brown], we were the house band at a place called [The Golden Lion in Dayton, Ohio], and we were there about a year under the leadership of a guy named ‘Jellyroll,’ Roger Troy.”

2014 issue of Oct. 27, 1969 live performance by the Stan Kenton Orchestra

Trumpeter BobMaynardVandivort (who spoke to me over the phone recently) auditioned for The Dapps during this period at The Golden Lion.   Leader (along with Jerry Gehl) of The Hi-Fi Band and later, Maynard & the Countdowns, who opened for Lonnie Mack at The Hawaiian Gardens and played many of the area’s sock hops, roller rinks, and teen clubs in the early 1960s, Vandivort’s experience would be marked by the Vietnam War.  Three of the Countdowns, including drummer Dave Listerman, received their draft notices soon after winning a “Battle of the Bands” contest, while Vandivort (who did Air Force ROTC at the University of Cincinnati) himself would get called up on March 23, 1966.  Vandivort — who studied under Frank Brown (later lead trumpet for James Brown) and Bill Berry (who played with Duke Ellington) — served at Fort Knox in the 158th Army Band, a unit whose function was to recruit volunteers, and a job that kept the musicians on the road six months out of the year.  Owning an automobile during his three years of active duty made Vandivort a valuable commodity, as he often shuttled fellow musicians to James Brown gigs in Indianapolis and Louisville (while “lookalikes” would be used as stand-ins for the AWOL soldiers).  Bud Hobgood and Vandivort, coincidentally, were once neighbors at Charlestown Square in Cincinnati’s western area (one-time home for Les Asch, too).

James Brown was initially furious at the continued use of the Dapps name and sent Charles Bobbitt to order the band to desist.  Asch recalls that, thanks to the largesse of the Dayton club owners, an attorney was hired to defend the band.  The court would make a determination that the musicians — having been seen in a public capacity as The Dapps (i.e., Merv Griffin Show appearance, Madison Square Garden concert, and the visit to the Apollo) — therefore, had “inherent properties” with respect to the band name, according to Asch.

Despite the legal victory, the band continued only briefly as The Dapps, as the Dayton scene began to sour for the band, and the musicians were heading in various directions.  Asch remembers a late-night stealth mission to liberate Roger Troy from his current engagement with The Fendermen (a stint at the Holly Oak, no less) that involved the unforgettable image of a jettisoned laundry bag landing within inches of the car, followed by Troy’s exhortation to the band, “C’mon boys, let’s skirtsy!”

Once liberated, the group of musicians then headed to Boston for a three-week stint playing five hours a night, seven days a week at a place called (I’m not making this up) K-K-K-Katy’s.

K-K-K-Katy” was a popular WWI-era “stammering” song

During this period (c. late 1969), the group — which numbered ten musicians — made some demo recordings at a Boston-area sound studio, with one of the stand-out tracks being the band’s arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Following the Boston engagement, the band would return to Dayton and find itself ensconced at The Golden Lion’s main competitor — The Diamond Club, owned by Jennie Krynzel.

Images courtesy of Diamond Club Facebook group

Meanwhile, drummer/manager Stu Perry told his friend Richard Podolor (engineer behind albums by Three Dog Night and Iron Butterfly (et al.), along with Bill Cooper) that he knew “this group from the midwest” and gave him a copy of the Boston demos.  Particularly impressed by the band’s arrangement of “Phoenix,” Podolor in turn sent these recordings to Jay Lasker, president of Kapp Records, who then set about arranging a showcase for the band at one of the music venues on Sunset Strip.

The band would subsequently relocate to the West Coast to take advantage of this new major-label opportunity — although the ten-member ensemble would not survive the cross-country trek.  For one thing, Stu Perry’s involvement meant that Jerry Thompson was no longer the drummer.  Also bowing out of the venture were saxophonist Howie McGurty and bassist Ken Tibbetts, who also played trombone.  [Tibbetts’ response would be to gather Thompson and McGurty and organize a funky new horn-heavy outfit called Melting Pot, whose 1970 debut album on Ampex was produced and engineered by Johnny Sandlin].

Band residence during the Jellyroll sessions — according to Les Asch

The Jellyroll-led outfit that played for Jay Lasker at a private after-hours showcase, sadly, only numbered seven musicians.  Asch recalls Lasker being distinctly underwhelmed by the band’s overall sound, which was noticeably thinner than the larger ensemble recorded in Boston.  Nevertheless, Kapp would commit to a full-length album that featured an elaborate design in a gatefold cover.  A $50,000 advance, according to Asch, went to the group’s attorney, who “doled out money in dribs and drabs.”

Jellyroll‘s debut album was released in 1971 on MCA-owned Kapp (and reissued in 2015 in South Korea).  Discogs notes that a test pressing of the album was actually done in 1970, with the group’s debut 45 “Strange” b/w “Help Me Over” issued September 1970 in the US, according to 45Cat (although curious to note that two completely different tracks were selected for the 45 release in Turkey).  Tim Hedding wrote one of the album’s tracks (“Quick Trip“), Eddie Setser got co-writing credit on another (“Standing on the Inside“), and the band itself is listed as the author on half the songs.

Gatefold LP cover art

Roger Troy:  Bass & Lead Vocals
Stu Perry:  Drums & Percussion
Cosme Joseph Deaguero:  Congas
Ed Setser:  Guitar
Tim Hedding:  Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Les Asch:  Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxophones
Dave Parkinson:  Tenor Saxophone
Bob Thorn:  Trumpet

45 – Mexico                                             45 – Turkey

There was no accompanying tour, sadly, to promote Jellyroll’s debut album.  Roger Troy and five of his bandmates — Tim Hedding, Eddie Setser, Les Asch, Dave Parkinson, and Stu Perry — soon found themselves back in Cincinnati, this time based at a club named Reflections, located at Calhoun and Vine in the University of Cincinnati area.  But alas, after just a couple weeks, Stu Perry (following an argument with Roger Troy)  snuck into Reflections one night and removed all of his percussion gear without informing the band.  The owner of the club, according to Les Asch, was livid when notified by the band that they could not fulfill their engagement.  This would prove to be the group’s last gasp.

History, however, demands that I make mention of Roger Troy’s participation in a local recording session for Wayne Perry — at the behest of his producer, Randy McNutt — that ended up generating a buzz in English clubs when reissued in 2020 nearly fifty years later as a limited edition 45 that sold out in three months!  McNutt recounts the tangled tale on his music history blog, Home of the Hits:

We cut “Pain” in the summer of 1972 at Rusty York’s Jewel Recording in suburban Cincinnati, where we did much of our local work.  Now this part is important–vital–to understanding this story:  We cut two versions of the song.  Both shared the same rhythm track, so they sound nearly identical.  Wayne sang the first version; Wayne and a guy from Alaska sang the second as a duet.  Their voices sounded a lot alike, and they sang the choruses together and exchanged on the verses.  Shortly after recording the duet version of “Pain,” the narrative began to get muddied.  We had two vocal versions that used the same rhythm track.

The track cooked from the start.  This was due to the musicians.  They included Roger “Jellyroll” Troy, a singer-bassist who led the group Jellyroll on Kapp Records. Roll, as we called him, had come home on vacation, and Wayne asked him to play on the session.  On drums was Jerry Love, a popular blues-rock drummer in Cincinnati.  He did a lot of sessions over at King Records.  He was a favorite of guitarist Lonnie Mack, the father of Cincinnati’s blue-eyed soul movement.  The B-3 organist was a kid (only 17) named Terry Hoskins, who lived in our home city, Hamilton, Ohio, about 25 miles northwest of Cincinnati.  We just let him wail on that song.  We had to get his father’s permission to take him to the studio with us.  On guitar we hired Gary Boston, a freelance session man at King and a local band veteran.  Like so many of these guys, Gary also did some work at King’s studio and at times worked on sessions with James Brown.  (Today, I use Gary on new recordings.)  The horn guys were Les Asch, Craig Shenafeld, and Terry Burnside.  They also played on some James Brown sessions over at King.  On the day we cut the rhythm track, we were all standing in the little studio, talking about the song, and suddenly a guy we didn’t know walked in and asked, “Hey, who owns the cool Firebird sitting out front?”  Jellyroll said proudly, “Why, I do!”  The guy said, “Well, it just got repossessed.”

The original 45 was issued on McNutt’s own Beast imprint, which was distributed by Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart label.  Though the single did not see much action beyond the tri-state area initially, both mixes of “Pain” were included on 2012 compilation,  Souled Out: Queen City Soul-Rockers Of The 1970s.  At one point, a songwriter friend informed McNutt about the growing buzz on YouTube, where the 7-inch was first uploaded in 2010.  Nik Weston of London’s Mukatsuku Records then contacted McNutt in 2018 about reissuing the two “Pain” mixes as a 45 (that remains “out of stock“).

> AUDIO LINK for “Pain” by Wayne Perry

Post-Jellyroll:  In a Nutshell

Roger “Jellyroll” Troy (who played on Shades of Joy’s Music of El Topo LP from 1970 with Jerry Love) would join The Electric Flag for their final album, The Band Kept Playing, before going on to collaborate with Mike Bloomfield, Howard Wales, Jerry Garcia, Mick Taylor, and the Goshorn Brothers, among others.  Troy Seals, under the mentorship of Conway Twitty, went on to enjoy a successful songwriting career in Nashville, where he was inducted in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988.  Seals, in turn, provided similar strategic guidance for Eddie Setser, who also became one of the Nashville’s top songwriters (before leaving us this past January).  Tim Hedding (who played organ on Delaney Bramlett’s 1973 album, Mobius Strip) became part of Gregg Allman’s band for 1987’s “comeback” album, I’m No Angel and its follow-up album, When the Bullets Fly.  Howard McGurty, holder of numerous industry patents and inventor of the first Phantom Sound speaker system, is founder of a Mason, Ohio-based company that has provided sound systems for such clients as Bruce Springsteen and the Cincinnati Symphony.  Dave Parkinson, who returned to Central Illinois in 1971 to tend to his mother’s health, has been a leading light in Peoria’s jazz scene, as well as founding member of funk-fusion group, Kriss Kross, a local favorite.  Les Asch continued to play locally after The Dapps disbanded at places such as The Roundup Club before deciding to pursue work opportunities outside the music industry.

In 2013, Egon of Now-Again Records penned a paean to Beau Dollar for Red Bull Academy that spelled out his contributions to the field of funk drumming using precise music terminology:

“‘I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me,’ recorded in October 1967, is a different beast altogether. Its groove surely owes a debt to Stubblefield’s ‘Cold Sweat’ rhythm, but gone are his swinging eighth note hi-hats, replaced by William Hargis ‘Beau Dollar’ Bowman’s lockstep quarter notes, bashed onto a slightly askew hi-hat.  Bowman avoids the ‘one’ – the first beat of a measure, all important to James Brown’s establishment of funk – in the second half of each two bar phrase and builds up to the one’s return with 16th note bass drum interplay, and what rhythm researcher Alan Slutsky called ‘two accented snare drum attacks.’  Brown ‘gave’ Stubblefield four uninterrupted bars in ‘Cold Sweat’ and the drummer was able to showboat.  In contrast, Bowman’s metronomic groove doesn’t change when Brown explains to his band that he wants ‘everyone to lay out but the drummer.’  Brown, notifying Bowman of his task the same way that he would soon instruct Stubblefield on ‘Funky Drummer,’ seemed to know when he needed to keep a drummer under a tense bridle.

Had Bowman only recorded ‘Can’t Stand Myself,’ his place amongst Brown’s elite cadre of funk drummers would have been earned, and his enduring presence assured.  While no one can say definitively who invented the style, Jim Payne, author of Give The Drummers Some, calls Bowman’s groove ‘the Quarter Note High Hat style – quarters on the high hat and everything else beneath it: a difficult thing to do, by the way.’  Its influence grew.  To follow the timeline from 1967 onwards is complicated, but to my ears it goes something like this:  Bowman hears Stubblefield’s ‘Cold Sweat’ and ponies up a response when Brown crashes his band’s – the all-white The Dapps – recording session for an improvised vocal performance.”

Dave Parkinson Remembers
My Association with James Brown, Bud Hobgood
And All the People at King Studios

It all started at a place called The Inner Circle in Clifton up by the University of Cincinnati.  I was playing tenor sax with a band called the Cincinnati Kids led by Troy Seals and Jo Ann Campbell.  Tim Drummond from Canton, IL near where I grew up was playing bass.  Tim later joined James’ traveling group.  He recorded on many of James’ hits, including “I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me” and many more.  James started frequenting the Inner Circle and sitting in with us.  Most memorable was “Cold Sweat” and “There Was a Time.”  James gradually wooed Tim, Les Asch, Tim Hedding, and “Fat Eddie” away from Troy and Jo Ann and we signed to James Brown Productions.  We recorded behind Bobby Byrd, Marva Whitney, Hank Ballard and many others.

“Good God!  A Thousand Dollars” was coined by James’ brilliant manager, Bud Hobgood.

This is the time we met and befriended Bud Hobgood.  He always had a $1,000 bill in his wallet, which he would show us once in awhile.  Bud was a long, tall shrewd country boy who advised James and kept him in line.  I think to this day, that if Bud was still alive, James would be too.  When we recorded with James or watched him set up tunes with his band, he would go to each member; horns, percussion, bass, guitar, conga and tell or sing to them their parts.  It invariably came out perfect and amazingly funky.

I was in the studio when he did “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” with those children and it brought tears to my eyes.

I recorded “Honky Tonk” and the band recorded “The Rabbit Got the Gun” and we covered instrumentally a lot of James’ hits.

At first James called the band the “Believers.”  I remember one night he got us all together and kind of sized us up as to what role we played in the band.  When he came to me, he gave me the biggest compliment I’ve ever had.  He said, “Dave, you the musician”  I can’t describe how good that made me feel.  For a time, he made me the band leader and we went to New York to the main offices of Cash Box magazine and he introduced me to the CEO.  It wasn’t long after that Billboard picked James up and the rest is history.  During that stay in New York we played Madison Square Garden with Count Basie, Slappy White, and many others.  The next evening we all went by limo with James to the Apollo Theater and saw Little Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex and a host of other great talent.  We then went to Lloyd Price’s club and someone tear gassed the place.  James then took us to Long Island where his father stayed and fed us some incredibly hot chili.  The next day, we did the Merv Griffin Show, along with Lily Tomlin.  The following day, James took me to A & R Studios, where I played with his band.  I remember walking in and Bernard Purdie had an easel set up that said “Purdie, Purdie.”  He was on the session.

After returning home, James put us on the road to Atlanta with Hank Ballard.  Had too much fun with Hank!  He looked at me one night in my apartment in Cincinnati and said, “You’re a Scorpio, right?”  He was dead on.

Then James took us to Cleveland to see Marvin Gaye in an intimate nightclub setting.  It was indescribable!

Then we were off to L.A. to do the Donald O’Connor pilot show [1968], which flopped.  Remember, Bud Hobgood was in the wings, keeping a lid on everybody.

After that, things began to taper off.  I could have gone to the Ivory Coast and Vietnam, but marital problems were getting in the way.

Getting back to Troy Seals, I had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting in Troy and Jo Ann’s apartment in Hamilton, Ohio between Troy and Conway Twitty.  After that meeting, Troy and Jo Ann moved to Nashville where Troy’s career went to the stratosphere.  Troy became one of the biggest writers and producers, writing songs like “I’ve Got a Rock and Roll Heart” [Eric Clapton], “Honky Tonk Angel” [Conway Twitty] and many more.  He took “Fat Eddie” Setser with him and they collaborated on “Seven Spanish Angels” [Ray Charles & Willie Nelson] and numerous others.  “Fat Eddie” was the guitar player for the Cincinnati Kids.  He was a very gifted writer in his own right.  I collaborated with Troy on a song called “But I Do,” which was picked up by The Oak Ridge Boys who put it on their Room Service album.

Back in 1970 I had a meeting with Mac Heywood.  Not being too well versed in business and the Hollywood scene, nothing came of it; but shortly thereafter, I started seeing the Heywoods all over television.  Quiz shows and the like.  The meeting with Mac took place at The Roundup Club in Erlanger, Ky., just across the river from Cincinnati.

When I first came to the Cincinnati area, I became fast friends with guys like Lonnie Mack, Beau Dollar, Roger “JellyRoll” Troy, Ronnie Grayson, Jerry Love and later on Glen Hughes of The Casinos.  Just about every time I went to L.A., I’d run into Gene walking around Hollywood.

The members of The Believers were:  Panny Saracason on bass, Les Asch on tenor with me, Tim Hedding on B-3, and “Fat Eddie” on guitar.

I cannot stress enough the role Bud Hobgood played in James Brown Productions.  He was the bedrock that kept James grounded.  As I stated earlier, if Bud was still alive, so would James be.

We went to Nashville where John R. and Hoss Man Allen of WLAC produced us on several tunes.

I’m about out of things to say, but my friend Bob “Maynard” Vandivort can add a lot and maybe fill in some blanks.

4 Out of 5 Physicians Agree:
Zero to 180 best viewed on a big screen – not smart phone

Birth of The JB’s @ King Records

The two-volume King Labels recording sessions discography (i.e., “the red books“) compiled by Michael Ruppli with assistance from Bill Daniels, can be frustratingly incomplete, especially with regard to musician credits.  Although this reference source is a great starting point, scholars of James Brown funk are forced to do quite a bit of digging on their own in order to piece together a more complete history.

Your ears might tell you, for instance, that William “Bootsy” Collins played bass on “Licking Stick,” a song first released as a two-part King 45 in May, 1968.

> AUDIO LINK for “Licking Stick Licking Stick (Pt. 1)”
James Brown and the Famous Flames (1968)

This classic funk bass riff, you might be startled to learn, was played by future Nashville session musician, Tim Drummond — one of six musicians who accompanied Mr. Brown on a Vietnam tour that same year.  “Licking Stick” would also be issued as a single track on 1969’s Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud album.

Spain & Germany — 1968                               France — 1968       

Musician credits, however, are absent on the original gatefold LP release — a common occurrence with King.  This kind of information would not become more widely known until decades later, when these recordings were reissued on compact disc, with some of the better anthologies including detailed liner notes.

Say It Loud‘s barren back cover, information-wise

Bootsy first appears in Ruppli’s King Records discography — along with his brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins — as part of the studio backing band on an undated 1969 session (possibly July) for Hank Ballard‘s “Butter Your Popcorn:

> AUDIO LINK for “Butter Your Popcorn
Hank Ballard (1969)

According to Ruppli’s session notes —

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Clayton Garnell:  Piano
Robert McCallum:  Tenor Sax

“Butter Your Popcorn” was originally released as a 45 track only and not included on Ballard’s You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down LP released the previous year.  Subsequent reissue in the UK in 2008 would see the song included as a bonus track.  “Butter Your Popcorn” can also be found on Ace UK’s seminal anthology, King Funk.

“Butter Your Popcorn” test pressing

Sold at auction for $72 in 2012

 

What Ruppli doesn’t tell you, however, is that Bootsy, Catfish and the other members of The Pacesetters* had been enlisted earlier to back Bill Doggett on what would be the A-side of a King 45 – “Honky Tonk Popcorn” – recorded on June 4, 1969 at (what is assumed to be) Cincinnati’s King Studios and released that same month:

> AUDIO LINK for “Honky Tonk Popcorn
Bill Doggett (1969)

As R.J. Smith writes in On the One, his biography of James Brown:

Henry Glover started hiring the band [i.e., The Pacesetters* — Frank “Kash” Waddy (drums), Phillippé Wynne (vocals), Robert “Chopper” McCullough (saxophone), and Clayton “Chicken” Gunnels & Darryl “Hasaan” Jamison (trumpet)] on sessions, including an Arthur Prysock record and Bill Doggett’s contribution to popcornography, “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

                US — Jun 1969                          King LP – art by Dan Quest

Check out this full-page ad in the September 6, 1969 edition of Billboard placed by Starday-King on behalf of James Brown’s then-current single “World (Pts. 1 & 2)” that also name-checks five other “red hot sizzling” King 45s, including both Hank Ballard’s “Butter Your Popcorn” and Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

R.J. Smith’s tip (thank you!) leads me to a May 13, 1969 session at Cincinnati’s King Studios for Arthur Prysock that lists no musician credits for the four songs recorded that day, all but one included on 1969’s Where the Soul Trees Grow album produced by Henry Glover, who also wrote the title track that kicks off the LP:

> AUDIO LINK for “Where the Soul Trees Grow
Arthur Prysock (1969)

Is that Bootsy and other members of The Pacesetters* backing Arthur Prysock on  “Where the Soul Trees Grow“; “Soul Soliloquy” & “If I Were Young Again” [plus one unissued track “Let’s Talk Things Over“]?  “Soul Soliloquy” b/w “Soul Trees” (both, in fact, penned by Henry Glover) were released as a King single, with a promo 45 issued June 1969, according to 45Cat.  This album review from the November 22, 1969 edition of Billboard notes “Prysock’s move to the King label” and opines that this LP’s mix of “contemporary and standard songs demonstrates why he is one of the best singers around.”

Promo 45 — June 1969                                   King LP

The rest of the album, as it turns out, was recorded at another session that took place on June 16, 1969 at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli’s session notes list 9 songs recorded that day (though no musician credits), with a re-worked uptempo “Fever” being one of the standout tracks.  Did members of The Pacesetters* play on both session dates for the Arthur Prysock album?

> AUDIO LINK for “Fever
Arthur Prysock (1969)

*                    *                    *

*Name Check:  Pacesetters or Pacemakers?

You will see this group of Cincinnati musicians referred to as either The Pacesetters or The Pacemakers — so which is it?  I have to go with Don MartinBootsy Collins, and FrankKashWaddy who all say The Pacemakers.

Hold on a second, some funk scholars would assert — these Cincinnati musicians actually entered the picture back in 1967, thanks to songwriter (and future King A&R executive), Charles Spurling, whose “The Boy Needs a Girl” for Junior McCants was his initial connection to King Records.  Charles Waring provides the back story about Spurling, who grew up in Lincoln Heights and was part of a gang whose rivals were The Isley Brothers:

More importantly, perhaps, Spurling was allowed to cut his own records for the company, and issued five singles, of which the driving, Motown-esque “She Cried Just A Minute”—released in 1967—has achieved cult status on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.  (Original copies of the 45 can exchange hands for three hundred dollars.)  Says Spurling about the song’s inspiration: “I had this woman, and every time I wanted to make love, she said, ‘Just a minute.’  She was always putting me on hold.  So I decided to write a song about it.  That’s a true story.  She was the same girl that inspired ‘Ball Of Fire,’” as recorded by Connie Austin and Marva Whitney.

Backing up Spurling on the session was a teenage group he had discovered in Cincinnati that included bassist Bootsy Collins and his brother Catfish on guitar.  They would later become [The Pacemakers] and, in 1970, the nucleus of James Brown’s backing band, the JB’s.  “I was riding through town and I heard these guys practicing,” recollects Spurling.  “I just stopped, parked, and listened to them.  And I said to myself, ‘All these guys need is a little bit of coaching.’  So then I went in, introduced myself, and sat down and listened to them.  They was at their mother’s home.  We ended up on the road for three years.”  When Syd Nathan asked Spurling to assemble a studio house band for King, the singer-songwriter knew who to call up:  “I said, ‘Mr. Nathan, I know some guys who had been with me for three years.  We’re tight and they’ll play anything.’  He said, ‘I’ll leave it up to you because if they play like you, these guys are good.’  So then I went and found Bootsy and them.”

Spurling used another Ohio band, Dayton’s The Untouchables, on some King sessions—they later morphed into The Ohio Players—and also nurtured a white band called The Dapps, which James Brown took under his wing.

Is it true (as Chuck Da Fonk and Charlie Fishman declare) that The Pacemakers’ first session at the King Studios was when they provided musical support for Charles Spurling on “That Woman,” recorded in early November 1967 along with its flip side “Which One”?

> AUDIO LINK for “That Woman
Charles Spurling (1969)

Would love to know who backed Charles Spurling on this classic slice of soul, but unfortunately, the King recording session info (page 392 of Ruppli) is bereft of even a recording date, as you can see:

(Click on image to view in High Resolution)

Fortunately, drummer Don Martin was at this session, and he was able to confirm with Zero to 180 these musician credits:

Charles Spurling:  Vocals
Unknown:  Backing Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Artie Sherman:  Piano

Artie Sherman would later become part of Midnight Blue, a Chicago outfit that has served as backing band for Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughn, and Aaron Neville, according to Discogs.

Bootsy’s next entry in the Ruppli sessionography is one that somehow escaped the book’s index — an uncredited appearance that is a bit of an oddball situation.  That is, on page 427 you will find a listing for “More Mess on My Thing (Pt. 1 & 2)” by a group identified as The New Dapps but who we now know (thanks to these musician credits) to be The J.B.’s.  Ruppli indicates that a single — King 6271 — was issued, and yet, no evidence exists of any releases whatsoever by a group called The New Dapps.  Even stranger, check out this 45 Discography for King Records – 6000 Series and notice that the entry for King 6271 is a duplicate listing of its neighbor, 6272!

50 years later (this past November 29th, to be exact), “More Mess on My Thing” would finally be liberated, thanks to Now-Again Records, whose liner notes (by noted James Brown historian, Alan Leeds) indicate the recording to have been made at Cincinnati’s King Studios on July 2, 1969.  How exhilarating to hear Bootsy, through sheer determination and the ferocity of his playing, will the musicians – who initially drop out at the 4:40 mark – back into the performance (after James Brown counts the band in) for one final musical burst:

> AUDIO LINK for “More Mess on My Thing
The J.B.’s (1969)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Robert “ChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Composer (& Coach)

The remaining months of 1969 and into the first few months of the new decade would see various players occupy the bassist chair, including the aforementioned “Sweet” Charles Sherrill, as well as West Coast session musicians, Ray Brown and Bob West, plus various collaborations with Cincinnati-area musicians, including Lee Tucker of The Dee Felice Trio.

Bootsy next appears in Ruppli’s sessionography on the legendary “Sex Machine” session that took place April 25, 1970 at Starday-King’s Nashville studios.  This session yielded the “Sex Machine” recording released as a two-part King 45 in June 1970:

> AUDIO LINK for “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine (Pt. 1)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1)” — a #2 R&B hit that also peaked at #15 on the Pop chart on August 8, 1970 — enjoyed a chart run that lasted 9 weeks.

France — 1970                                           Spain — 1974

Germany — Aug 1970                                          Japan — Nov 1973

US – June 1970

May 20, 1970 found The J.B.’s making their first solo recording – “The Grunt” – at Cincinnati’s King Studios, a two-part 45 released on the heels of “Sex Machine” (and whose opening sounds would be famously sampled on “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy):

> AUDIO LINK for “The Grunt (Pts. 1 & 2)”
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Piano
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

Billboard, in its August 8, 1970 edition, would select “The Grunt” as part of that week’s Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the Top Selling R&B Singles Chart.”

US 45 — July 1970                                      French B-side — 1972

That same May 20, 1970 Cincinnati session also produced a gospel recording by vocalist Kay Robinson, who enjoyed musical support from members of The J.B.’s on “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)”
Kay Robinson (1970)

“The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)”     Kay Robinson     1970

Musician credits according to Ruppli —

Kay Robinson:  Vocals & Piano
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
Charles Bobbitt:  Backing Vocals
Faye Pridgon:  Backing Vocals

According to the bio on Discogs:

Dr. Kay Robinson currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, and started singing at the age of 18.  She recorded for King Records and James Brown Productions.  James Brown flew her down to Cincinnati from Dayton (she was living in Springfield) for recording sessions.  Her career with James Brown Productions ended when she wouldn’t record R&B songs.

     US promo — 1970                                    New pressing — 2006

The May 20, 1970 session at the King Studios also yielded a two-part James Brown track written by David Matthews — “The Drunk” — (on which Bootsy plays bass) that was issued on King subsidiary, Bethlehem.  According to Ruppli’s notes, Part Two ended up being issued as the B-side of “A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads,” with Part One locked away to this day in Polydor’s vaults.

> AUDIO LINK for “The Drunk
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
Kenny Poole:  Guitar
Frank Brown:  Trumpet
Jerry Conrad:  Trumpet
Marie Speziale:  Trumpet
Millard Dusenbury:  Trombone
Larry Dickson:  Baritone Sax
David Matthews:  Composer & Arranger

US — Jul 1970                                          Canada — 1970

The double-album set Sex Machine, meanwhile, combined studio tracks disguised to sound as stage recordings, along with actual live performances recorded in concert at Atlanta’s Bell Auditorium on October 1, 1969, with a large ensemble that featured three personnel on drums — Clyde Stubblefield, John “Jabo” Starks & Melvin Parker — plus a six-member horn section, and Charles Sherrill on bass, among others.

Ruppli’s sparse notes (no musician credits) indicate the three-song medley on side B to have been recorded in Cincinnati on July 23, 1970 (along with unissued versions of “The Boss” and “There Was a Time“) — musician credits for Sex Machine‘s medley (below) provided courtesy of this German pressing:

> AUDIO LINK for “Bewildered” [part one]

> AUDIO LINK for “I Got the Feelin’” [part two]

> AUDIO LINK for “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” [part three]

Musician credits taken from Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

There Was a Time” (a.k.a., “I Got to Move“), from the July 23, 1970 Cincinnati session referenced above, found freedom 25 years later as track number five on a collection of 1970 James Brown recordings that feature members of The J.B.’s, Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thing:

> AUDIO LINK for “There Was a Time (I Got to Move)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer & Songwriter

That same Cincinnati session also produced a version of “Sex Machine” that, according to Ruppli, is the nearly 11-minute version you hear kicking off side A of the Sex Machine LP released in September of that year.  Amusing to note that Augusta, GA and Cincinnati are the first two cities name-checked by Brown in his wide-ranging roll call of US cities prior to the song’s final bridge:

> AUDIO LINK for “Sex Machine (Extended LP Version)”
James Brown (1970)

MUSICIAN CREDITS TAKEN FROM DISCOGS
[SAME Cincinnati SESSION AS “LIVE” MEDLEY]

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

Sex Machine would peak at #29 on Billboard‘s Top 200 album chart [#4 R&B].

Brown’s next album Super Bad would give the King engineering team another opportunity to fashion a “live” album — via the superimposition of concert crowd sounds — from recordings produced at Starday-King’s studio facilities in both Cincinnati and Nashville.  “Super Bad,” the 9-minute opening title track recorded on June 30, 1970 in Nashville, is the album’s sole selection to feature The J.B.’s:

> AUDIO LINK for “Super Bad (Pts. 1-3)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Super Bad” — a #1 R&B hit for James Brown (#13 Pop, peak date Nov. 21, 1970) — would spend a total of 10 weeks on the chart.  The Super Bad album, meanwhile, would reach as high as #4 on Billboard’s R&B chart, #61 on the Pop chart.

Germany — 1970                                           France — 1970

Iran (unofficial) — Jan 1971

At that June 30, 1970 session, The J.B.’s also laid down two of their own recordings:  **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (includes musical quotations from songs by Kool & the Gang, The Meters & Jimi Hendrix) and “I’ll Ze:

> AUDIO LINK for “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can
The J.B.’s (1970)

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Ze
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

NoteThese liner notes say that (1) Frank “Kash” Waddy played drums on “I’ll Ze” and (2) Clyde Stubblefield [possibly Frank “Kash” Waddy] played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can.”

Also captured on tape at that June 30, 1970 Nashville session was a vocal tune by James Brown, with help from Bobby Byrd and backing by The J.B.’s, that was initially kept in the can — “Since You’ve Been Gone” — but has since been issued on such collections as 1988’s Motherlode and 1996’s Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thang:

> AUDIO LINK for “Since You’ve Been Gone
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar

Ruppli’s session notes for “Since You’ve Been Gone” state “same band” as the personnel used for “Super Bad” — on which “Jabo” Starks served as the drummer, not Clyde Stubblefield — so I feel compelled to point out the discrepancy with the credits above.  Starks played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” & “I’ll Ze” – tracks all recorded the same day – so it stands to reason, perhaps, that he performed likewise on “Since You Been Gone.”

On September 10, 1970, The J.B.’s laid down the title track “These Are The J.B.’s.for what was intended to be their debut long-player:

> AUDIO LINK for “These Are the J.B.’s
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Flute & Baritone Saxophone
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

                US — Nov 1970                         Belgium (Rugby typeface) — 1971

Ruppli’s session notes indicate this recording to be part of King LP 1126, a four-song test pressing engineered by Ron Lenhoff (as previously noted) that would be shelved, once James Brown inked a new contract with Polydor, in favor of a more expansive ten-track debut album on James Brown’s People label in 1972  [By the way, that original four-song mix of These Are The J.B.’s finally saw daylight in 2014, thanks to Now-Again Records, with liner notes again by Alan Leeds — the previous year, someone had paid $1600 for a copy of the test pressing that allegedly came from the estate of Hal Neely (who directed operations for the merged Starday-King labels after Syd Nathan’s passing on behalf of new owner, Lin Broadcasting)].

$1600 test pressing (1971) for These Are the J.B.’s

Given that Myra Barnes (a.k.a., Vicki Anderson) made her recording of “Message From the Soul Sisters (Pt. 1 & 2)” at Cincinnati’s King Studios on September 10, 1970 — the same session where “These Are The J.B.’s” was recorded — it should come as no surprise to learn that The J.B.’s provided musical support:

> AUDIO LINK for “Message From the Soul Sisters (Pts. 1 & 2)”
Myra Barnes (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

Myra (“Vicki Anderson”) Barnes: Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield: Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins: Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins: Guitar
Bobby Byrd: Piano
St. Clair Pinckney: Baritone Sax
Robert McCollough: Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells: Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison: Trumpet

October 1, 1970 would find The J.B.’s backing James Brown on a pair of recordings made at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia, with one of the tracks (“We Need Liberation“) locked away in the vaults never having been issued, while the other — “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” — was held back for release until January, 1972:

> AUDIO LINK for “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Talkin’ Loud (and Sayin’ Nothing)” was a #1 R&B hit (#27 Pop) that would spend 7 weeks on the chart, having peaked on March 18, 1972.

Belgium — 1972                                     Germany — 1972

But wait!   One additional recording (not mentioned in the Ruppli discography) was made at that October 1, 1970 session — a J.B.’s instrumental named “The Wedge” that only saw freedom when issued as the second track on the More Mess On My Thing album released this past November:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Wedge
The J.B.’s (1970)

2019’s More Mess On My Thing album — mixed by Mario Caldato directly from the original multi-track masters — also features a 22-minute version of **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (see credits below) recorded in Nashville on June 30, 1970:

> AUDIO LINK for “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” [complete take]
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Vocals [i.e., “Right On!”s]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
Written by = James Brown, with help** from a few friends:
[“Chicken Strut”] = Art Neville, George Porter, Jr., Joseph Modeliste & Leo Nocentelli
[“I Was Made to Love Her”] = Hank Cosby, Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder & Sylvia Moy
[“Let the Music Take Your Mind”] = Gene Redd + Kool & The Gang
[“Power of Soul”] = Jimi Hendrix
[“Something”] = George Harrison

The first week of November, 1970 would see two big King 45s committed to tape at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli tells us that Vicki Anderson‘s response record to “Super Bad” (penned by James Brown ) — “Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)” — was recorded on November 3rd, while Dave Thompson, in his Funk listening guide, confirms that “Bootsy Colllins-era JBs” are the backing band on this single, as Ruppli’s notes do not contain musician credits:

> AUDIO LINK for “Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)
Vicki Anderson (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Vicki Anderson:  Lead Vocals
James Brown:  Backing Vocals [Comments]
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Robert McCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet

US — 1970                                              France — 1970

Nigeria — 197?

Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (Pts. 1 & 2)” —  a #4 R&B (#34 Pop) hit that spent a total of 8 weeks on the charts, having peaked on February 6, 1971 — was also recorded in early November at King Studios:

> AUDIO LINK for “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer

Germany — Feb 1971                           Norway — Feb 1971

Ruppli’s session notes also identifies five tracks recorded at the King Studios on November 5, 1970 by James Brown (backed by a group of unnamed musicians) that remain unissued:  “All the King’s Men” (a name later used for Maceo Parker’s own band) and “I’ll Be There” (presumably, a version of that year’s big Jackson 5 hit), plus three recordings of no fixed title.  Could this Untitled Instrumental (taken from 1988’s Motherlode funk compilation) be one of those unnamed recordings from the session at the King Studios on November 5, 1970?

> AUDIO LINK for Untitled Instrumental
James Brown (1970)

January 26, 1971 would find James Brown at Washington, DC’s Rodel Studios, with “Soul Power” being one of the key recordings captured that day.  Ruppli neglects to mention, however, that The J.B.’s provided musical support on these tracks:

> AUDIO LINK for “Soul Power
James Brown (1971)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Lead Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Soul Power” reached as high as #4 on the R&B chart (#29 Pop) and spent 9 weeks on the charts, having peaked on April 3, 1971.

Germany — Apr 1971                                     France — 1971

Iran (Unofficial) — 197?

Zero to 180 asked DC’s Dave Nuttycombe if he knew where Rodel Studios was once located, to which he typed forth this reply:

[Rodel] was in Georgetown, off Wisconsin down by Key Bridge.  The “Ro” was Fritz Roland, perhaps the top cinematographer in town.  The studio did a lot of film post-production, back when DC was churning out industrial and government films.

Dave’s friend, Paul Dunlap, meanwhile provides this complementary bit of information:

The “Del” in Rodel was Del Ankers, Fritz’s partner.  Fritz shot all the Wilkins Coffee commercials there with Jim Henson too.

During the same January 26, 1971 session at DC’s Rodel Studios, Lyn Collins also recorded the A-side of her next single — “Wheels of Life” — which was then completed, according to this website, the following month on February 15, 1971 at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia:

> AUDIO LINK for “Wheels of Life
Lyn Collins (1971)

Musician credits according to this website

Lyn Collins:  Vocals & Handclaps
James Brown:  Piano
Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Tambourine
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

US — 1971                                                 France — 1971

“Wheels of Life” was issued as the fourth single release on People – a subsidiary label for James Brown Productions that was active from 1971 through 1974 – as well as King.

Ruppli also informs us that Roberta Dubois – one of The Sisters of Righteous – recorded “Who Am I” on January 26, 1971 at DC’s Rodel Studios (with these same musicians, one presumes).  “Who Am I” would be selected as the A-side of King 6375.  Good luck, however, finding a copy.

US — 1971                                               Test Pressing

Tip of the hat to 45Cat contributor jukebox george, who points us to a 1995 Billboard review of the Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul, in which it is revealed that James Brown, along with Roberta Dubois and Geneva “Gigi” Kinard of The Sisters of Righteous, provided vocal support on Byrd’s “I Need Help (I Can’t Do It Alone),” a Top 20 hit on the Soul Singles chart (that also hit #69 on the Pop chart in 1970).

Dubois was not the first King artist to record “Who Am I,” as this song makes several appearances in the Ruppli sessionography around this time, interestingly enough,  Ruppli’s notes for King master K13740 indicate that “Who Am I” attributed to King recording artist Leon Austin (who had taught James Brown “the right way to play piano,” according to biographer Don Rhodes) was “transferred to K13792” on September 10, 1970.  When you then skip to K13792 (an undated entry), you find the song “Who Am I” instead attributed to The Famous Flames — a King 45 released December, 1970.   James Brown would record his own unissued version the following month, shortly before Vicki Anderson then recorded her version of “Who Am I’ at the Cincinnati studios on January 21, 1971 that also never saw the light of day.

Which brings us to the final entry of The J.B.’s in volume one of the Ruppli “red books”:  King LP1137.  Go to Discogs and type the terms “King 1137” and you will encounter a lot of “noise” — but if you go back and add the word “Olympia,” notice that you pull up exactly one item for a triple-album test pressing of an unenhanced live performance of James Brown & The J.B.’s recorded March 8, 1971 at the Olympia Theatre in Paris that got shelved for 20 years, until the release of Polydor’s Love Power Peace CD in 1992, an edited mix of the concert.  In 2014, Sundazed performed a tremendous public service with their issue of a 3-LPtrifoldalbum that included the following statement:

This collection represents original stereo mixes, as overseen and approved by James Brown in 1971, of materials intended for a 3-LP set with uniquely titled discs:  “Love,” “Power,” and “Peace.”  Documentation shows that the sides would have been presented in then-common automatic record changer, with side one and side six appearing together, sides two and five, and three and four following suit [i.e., “auto-coupled“] to facilitate continuous play; we have honored that intention in this edition.  In the aftermath of both a change in labels and key members of the band departing just after these [eight-track] masters were completed, the project was not issued.  Although a CD edition of the album was issued by Polydor in 1992, it was not the complete show and was newly mixed.  This is the first time this storied slice of searing soul has been available exactly as James Brown envisioned.

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
John (Jabo) Starks:  Drums [Primary]
Don Juan (Tiger) Martin:  Drums [Secondary]
William (Bootsy) Collins:  Bass
Phelps (Catfish) Collins:  Guitar
Hearlon (Cheese) Martin:  Rhythm Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Clayton (Chicken) Gunnells:  Trumpet
Darryl (Hassan) Jamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
David Matthews:  Conductor [Horns And Strings]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

      1971 King 3-LP test pressing                             Sundazed’s 3-LP set — 2014

To replicate concert, play 3-LP set “auto-coupled” on a Crosley Stack-o-Matic

Compared to the 1992 CD with 17 tracks, check out the three-LP Sundazed mix that has a total of 31 selections across six sides.  These three discs contain the entire Paris show with one notable exception — “Who Am I” recorded January 12 and April 12, 1971 at King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio (with Kenny Poole on guitar).

Worth mentioning that on page 452, close to the end of Ruppli’s King sessionography, you will find an undated session on which The J.B.’s recorded a pair of unissued songs, “My Brother” and “Texas Green.”

1972’s Get on the Good Foot album includes one recording with the Collins brothers — “The Whole World Needs Liberation” — that must be among their last recordings with James Brown:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Whole World Needs Liberation
James Brown (1972)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
Hal Neely:  Backing Vocals
Lois Wong:  Backing Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar
H.B. Barnum:  Conductor

After their departure from the James Brown organization, Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers put out a single, “Fun In Your Thang (Pts. 1 & 2)”:

> AUDIO LINK for “Fun in Your Thang (Pt. 1)”
Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers (1972)

Released in 1972 on General American, an independent label out of Columbia, Missouri (that was also based in Cincinnati), this 45 would be re-issued the following year on Cincinnati-based Philmore Sound:   Would love to know where this recording was made – possibly at King Studios?

1972 single                                                      1973 release

But check this out:  Mere months ago (August 23, 2019), Shake It Records — in collaboration with Bootsy Collins — remastered a number of classic 45 sides directly from the master tapes and produced The House Guests Meet The Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary, a new 12-inch vinyl LP!  Shake It reports that the orange vinyl edition has already sold out, but black vinyl is still available.

This vinyl-only collection (with liner notes by RJ Smith + these musician credits) is a limited edition release from Shake It Records, who have this to say —

A slab of Cincinnati hard funk slammers – most reissued (legally) for the first time! Post JB’s / Pre-P-funk outfits headed up by brothers Catfish & Bootsy Collins along with a Cincinnati who’s-who of top club players who could turn it out night after night after night in places like The Psychedelic Grave or The Round Up Club – that featured a caged bear in the club!

This selection, hand picked by Bootsy, highlights that youthful output under various names as The House GuestsThe Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary. The monikers may have changed, but what they brought to the stage every night – leaving the club and audience devastated – never did.

A D D I T I O N A L     R E L A T E D     R E C O R D I N G S

Maceo and the Macks would incorporate new horn work (as well as audio excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “Mountaintop” speech) on a reinvigorated mix entitled “Soul Power ’74” that saw release in October 1973:

> AUDIO LINK for “Soul Power ’74
Maceo and the Macks (1973)

Musician credits according to Discogs

JohnJaboStarks:   Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Maceo Parker:  Alto Sax [Overdubbed]
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax [Overdubbed]
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ike Oakley:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

“Soul Power ’74 (Part 1)” would “bubble under” Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, peaking at  #109 on January 19, 1974.

  US — Oct 1973                                        Netherlands — 1973

From poking around in Discogs, I have discovered that 1995’s Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul includes two obscure 45 tracks, plus a pair of previously unreleased recordings that feature Bootsy, Catfish and The J.B.’s —

Also this recording that can be found on James Brown’s Funky People Volume 3 — “Doin’ the Doo” by Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s:

> AUDIO LINK for “Doing the Doo
Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s

Musician credits according to Discogs

Bobby Byrd:  Vocals & Songwriter
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
John “Jabo” Starks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

Bootsy in far-left corner of inset photo on Byrd’s European LP cover

Bootsy Talks King History @ National Public Radio

November 1, 2017’s edition of NPR radio show “What’s Good With Stretch & Bobbito” features Bootsy Collins, who reflects on his experiences at Cincinnati’s King Records (starting at age 17), as well as the birth of the J.B.’s, among other things.

AUDIO LINK — click here 

[32-minute program = includes transcript]

Ω          Ω          Ω

A Mad Magazine Salute to James Brown

September 1971 issue

Mad Fold-In by Al Jaffee

James Brown’s “Hot Pants” — released June 1971 — was a #1 hit R&B [#15 Pop] that spent 11 weeks on the chart and whose popularity reached its apex on Aug. 7, 1971, around the time this issue of Mad Magazine was hitting the presses.

“Hots Pants” Picture Sleeve – Europe

For Optimal Experience:  Zero to 180 best viewed on a big screen – not smart phone

Bobby Smith’s King Productions

Bobby Smith, we now know, had been commissioned by Syd Nathan to build a recording studio in Macon, Georgia — the adopted hometown of King Records’ biggest star, James Brown.  The following recordings were produced by Bobby Smith at Bobby Smith Studios, the recording location for these (Starday-)King-related releases — with one notable exception, as indicated a little further down the page:

[click on song titles below for streaming audio]

History Wrinkle:  The earliest appearance of “Macon, Georgia” as a recording location in Ruppli’s King recording sessionography – “May 4, 1966” – can be found on a session for Thomas Bailey that yielded “Just Won’t Move” and “Fran” — a single that, for some odd reason, did not find release until 1970.  Perhaps Ruppli’s carbon-dating tests somehow got mishandled in the lab?  The more likely explanation can be found in John Ridley’s liner notes for the first Ace UK/Kent compilation King Serious Soul:

“Bailey was active in the Macon area with his group, the Flintstones, around the turn of the 70s and was involved with Bobby Smith.  He wrote material for Mickey Murray, among others, as well as making his own discs.  His first Federal 45 coupled the ballad ‘Fran’ with the strutting Southern funk of ‘Just Won’t Move.'”

Zero to 180 recently spoke with King Records historian, Brian Powers, who asserted that Bobby Smith Studios, indeed, was up and running by 1966 and, in fact, had already been in operation for several years.**

Here’s one other Bobby Smith production that might be the latest recording of the bunch — first of two featured songs in today’s history piece:

Push and Shove” b/w “Just Be Glad”    Willy Wiley     1973

Must note with confusion that Bobby Smith is listed as producer on Gloria Walker’s classic slice of funk “Papa’s Got the Wagon” (along with its mate “Your Precious Love“), even though Ruppli’s sessionography notes state that this March, 1971 single had been recorded in “Cincinnati” — is it possible that Smith came to King Studios for this session (which also produced “Lonely and Blue” and “Dancing to the Beat” – two songs that remain locked away in the King vaults)?

NOTE:  Check out the “prequel” to this piece via King RecordsDay of My Birth, which includes session information for Bobby Smith Productions 1964-1965 

In the course of browsing the Federal Records section of Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography, I couldn’t help but notice one particular James Duncan session** that took place in Muscle Shoals, Alabama — not Macon, Georgia.  But wait, Bobby Smith’s name is attached to this entire August 14, 1969 recording session — is it possible that Smith traveled to Muscle Shoals to record James Duncan?   Listen to the classic guitar work on “I Got It Made (in the Shade)” — sure sounds like Eddie Hinton, right? Compare with “This Old Town” by Wilson Pickett, a song previously celebrated here.

“I Got It Made (in the Shade)”     James Duncan     1969

As it turns out, the ‘Musical Columbo’ – Soul Detective – had already pondered this question ten years earlier, having discovered a key piece of research in John Ridley’s liner notes to Volume 2 of the Ace UK/Kent anthology series, King Serious Soul that affirms Ruppli’s assertion, pointing out that James Duncan’s Federal singles “were mainly cut at Muscle Shoals [Sound] and were uniformly of a very high standard indeed.”

Liner notes for King’s Serious Soul Vol. 2:

James Duncan

After an initial R&B-styled 45 for Gene in 1962, Duncan recorded a series of six singles for King between 1964 and 1966.  Several of these, like his version of “Out of Sight” (King 6039), were heavily influenced by the then current styling of Brother James, although Duncan’s voice was far less harsh and more melodic.  They also had a pronounced R&B flavour and tracks like “Mr. Goodtime” (King 6013) have featured on dance floors recently.  Others, like his original version of the southern soul war-horse “My Pillow Stays Wet” (King 5887) are more suited to collections like this.  After a gap of a couple of years, Duncan rejoined the King group via the ubiquitous Bobby Smith who placed four singles on the Federal label from 1969 to 1971.  These were mainly cut at Muscle Shoals and were uniformly of a very high standard indeed.  “My Baby Is Back” may just be the pick of the ballads, and is a rec-cut of his only 45 for Major Bill Smith’s Charay concern from 1964.  What a great retro sound!  It’s pushed by the classic 6/8 slow country soul of “I’m Gonna Leave You Alone” – only the Alabama musicians could play like that.  The up-tempo “Money Can’t Buy True Love” shows how adept they were at dance cuts as well.

James Duncan, along with the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, laid down six songs at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama on August 14, 1969, with producer Bobby Smith at the helm:  “Money Can’t Buy True Love”; “My Baby Is Back”; “All Goodbyes Ain’t Gone”; “I’m Gonna Leave You Alone”; “I Got It Made (in the Shade)” & “You’ve Got to Be Strong” [Ruppli].  Also recorded at Muscle Shoals, according to Ridley, is the Lori & Lance single “I Don’t Have to Worry” b/w “All I Want Is You.”

** Zero to 180 would subsequently stumble upon Bobby Smith’s productions for King and assemble a “prequel” research piece, King Records — Day of My Birth, posted April 25, 2019.

Mickey Murray LP II: Released?

Soul singer Mickey Murray recorded only two full-length albums over the course of his career — one for SSS International, 1967’s Shout Bamalama & Super Soul Songs  (the label’s first hit for Shelby Singleton), and the other, entitled People are Together, for King subsidiary Federal Records in 1970 — an album produced by Bobby Smith, who had been commissioned earlier by Syd Nathan to build a recording and production facility in Macon, Georgia, the adopted hometown of James Brown.

Album released in US on Federal and in Brazil (year unknown) on Joda

abstract crowd backdrop —  used for front and back cover images

Going Back to Alabama” — first of three B-sides issued on Federal for Starday-King — includes some prototypical “rapping” in the James Brown tradition.  Note the playful musical references to “Sweet Soul Music” — a song previously celebrated here:

“Going Back to Alabama”    Mickey Murray     1970

Discogs acknowledges three Federal single releases over the course of three years beginning in 1970.

For those who wonder why such limited output from a one-time potential hitmaker, NPR reporter Eric Luecking’s accompanying history piece for “People are Together” — selected as ‘Song of the Day‘ for February 24, 2012 — suggests that Murray may have been more than a little disillusioned by his experience with the music industry:

Born in South Carolina in the 1930s, Mickey Murray had roots in Georgia and shined shoes to help earn a living early in life.  He proved he could sing with gravel and grit, had a million-selling single in the late 1960s, and signed with the King/Federal label.  It’s striking how similar Mickey Murray’s story is to that of James Brown, yet while Brown left an indelible mark on soul and popular music, Murray remains a mere blip in the musical cosmos.  As the liner notes to his recently reissued lost album tell it, Murray doesn’t believe that People Are Together was ever officially released after it was recorded in 1970.

It was a risky endeavor to push “People Are Together” as the album’s lead single in the South.  It was reportedly black DJs who killed the record, labeling it as too progressive and fearing that they’d lose their on-air jobs should they play it. It doesn’t sound remotely controversial today:  It’s a call to all of mankind to join together and love one another, in the spirit of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and many other songs of its time.

Regardless, fame and a longer singing career didn’t follow for Murray, although he’d record later in life.  But the defiantly hopeful “People Are Together,” written by Bob Garrett and Calvin Arline, now stands as a virtually unheard gem; whether it was known to the public when it was recorded more than 40 years ago is irrelevant. What is relevant is the song itself, a timeless three-minute sermon which implores us all to give a little more love.

In 2011, Secret Stash Records reissued the album in limited edition (“1200 individually numbered copies”), with extended liner notes, never-before-seen photos, and access code for a free MP3 download of the entire album (“first 250 copies also include a 7″, hand-numbered with the corresponding number.”)

45Cat acknowledges two singles following Murray’s stint with Starday-King — one in 1975 and the other in 1979, which appears to be singer’s final musical statement.

Musical Postscript:  Dept. of Zaniness

Sole Release for NYC’s indie label Pepco

 … later bought out by Potomac Electric Power Company

The JB’s Debut: Polydor not King

The debut album by The JB’sJames Brown‘s backing band that included a group of Cincinnati musicians who would soon join forces with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic and later form the core of Bootsy’s Rubber Band — was originally scheduled for release in July, 1971 on the King label (SLP 1126), as noted on Discogs.  Starday-King even issued a test pressing, with Ron Lenhoff overseeing the engineering and editing of this four-song LP, half of which (“The Grunt” and “These Are the J.B.’s”) was recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on May 19, 1970, and the other half (“I’ll Ze” and “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can”) recorded at Starday Studios in Nashville on June 30, 1970.

But alas, it was not meant to be** — as one Discogs contributor wryly observes:

Mmm. I wonder how many people have one of these [test pressings] … other than James Brown himself, Hal Neely, Dave Matthews, Charles Bobbit and anybody directly involved in King Records (as in office staff), most of the members of the band probably never got a copy of this TP, as this was at the precise point when JB’s catalogue got bought out by Polydor and the JB’s (Mk.1) had already exited stage left.  Probably 25-50 made max.

The original These Are the J.B.’s LP comprised just four tracks (click on audio links):

“These Are the J.B.’s”     The J.B.’s     recorded in Cincinnati – May 19, 1970

Bass: WilliamBootsyCollins
Guitar:  PhelpsCatfishCollins
Drums:  Clyde Stubblefield (A1 & B2)
Drums:  FrankKashWaddy (A2 & B1)
Congas:  Johnny Griggs
Flute & Baritone Sax:  St-Clair Pinckney (A1)
Tenor Sax:  Robert McCullough
Trumpet:  ClaytonChickenGunnels & DarrylHasaanJamison
Organ:  James Brown (A2)
Piano: Bobby Byrd (B1)
Engineer:  Ron Lenhoff
Producer: James Brown

James Brown would describe the band in his 1986 autobiography thusly:

They were called the Pacesetters and were all from Cincinnati.  They’d hung around King for awhile and then started doing session work there.  I had used them myself on several things.  Bootsy Collins (who later went on to become a big star with the Parliament-Funkadelic Thang and his own Rubber Band) was the bass player; his older brother, Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins played guitar; Frank ‘Kash’ Waddy played drums; Robert McCullough played sax; a fella called Clayton ‘Chicken’ Gunnels played trumpet.

“These Are the J.B.’s” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by Phelps CollinsClayton Isiah GunnelsClyde StubblefieldDarrell JamisonFrank Clifford WaddyJohn W. GriggsRobert McCollough and William Earl Collins

“The Grunt” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Phelps Collins, Clayton Isiah Gunnels, Clyde Stubblefield, Darrell Jamison, Frank Clifford Waddy, James Brown, John W. Griggs, Robert McCollough, and William Earl Collins

“Medley: When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Art Neville, Gene Redd*, George Porter Jr.*, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Joseph Modeliste, Kool & The Gang, and Leo Nocentelli

Note:  “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” includes portions of “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” written by Kool & The Gang and Gene Redd Jr.; “Chicken Strut,” written by The Meters; and “Power Of Soul,” written by Jimi Hendrix.

The following year in 1972, when Polydor released what would be known as the debut album by The J.B.’s, a much different collection of songs would would end up in the marketplace, as Food For Thought comprised ten songs [“The Grunt” & “These Are the J.B.’s (Pt. 1)” being the only overlapping tracks] vs. the four song set as mixed and sequenced by Ron Lenhoff.

Funk fans worldwide rejoiced in 2014 when the original four-song mix enjoyed release on vinyl (as well as digital download) for the first time, with a 12-page booklet of liner notes by Alan Leeds stating that, in fact, only two test pressings are known to have existed (so says a Discogs contributor).  Worth pointing out that “the originally scheduled issue of this album included overdubbed crowd noise — for this issue of the album, the original, undubbed two-track stereo mix was used as source.”

Given the variant titles and track listings in various markets worldwide, Discogs advises caution:

Different original editions and reissues have different titles and artwork, including Food For Thought; Pass The Peas; and Food For Thought – Pass The Peas – I Mean Gimme Some More.

Main cover (US, Canada, Spain)

Alternate cover (UK, Germany, France, Turkey)

Cover – Japan

“The Grunt” – famously sampled for 1987’s “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy – would enjoy single release on King in August of 1970, just three months after being recorded.  Billboard would select the single in the August 8, 1970 edition for its Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the top-selling R&B Singles chart.”

King 45 + UK 45 on Mojo + Test Pressing of “The Grunt” – a steal at $120

A second single – “These Are the J.B.’s” (Pts. 1&2)” – followed in November, 1970Billboard‘s Ed Ochs would select the 45 for his “picks and plays” for the week of October 24, 1970 in his ‘Soul Sauce’ column.  Interesting to point out that the same Billboard November 21, 1970 issue that mentions Starday-King release of “These Are the J.B.’s” also notes that “the James Brown Show played Fargo, N.D. recently – the good response was particularly encouraging because this was the first time his show had ever played that state.”

Obituary for Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins
Billboard — August 10, 2010

R&B guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, a veteran of James Brown’s J.B.’s, Parliament-Funkadelic and his younger brother William “Bootsy” Collins‘ Rubber Band, passed away at his home in Cincinnati on Aug. 6 at the age of 66, following a long battle with cancer.

Bootsy Collins issued a statement saying that “my world will never be the same” without his brother.  “Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bootsy’s wife, Patti Collins, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Catfish “was a father figure to my husband.  He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Catfish, eight years Bootsy’s senior, was the one who suggested his brother put bass strings on an old guitar, and the two were part of a Cincinnati group called The Pacemakers that became the rhythm section for the city’s famed King Records label.  James Brown recruited the Collins brothers, and starting in 1968 they played on Brown classics such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” “Super Bad” and “Soul Power” as the J.B.’s.

By 1971 they had left Brown’s employ, going on to form The House Guests and then joining Funkadelic in 1972 for albums such as America Eats Its Young and Cosmic Slop.  Catfish remained with the group — which also lost guitarist Garry Shider to cancer in June — until the mid-’80s.

“(Catfish) was a hell of a musician,” keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who played with the guitarist in Funkadelic, told the Enquirer.  “People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

George Clinton alumnus Dumine DePorres seconded that notion, telling Billboard.com that Catfish’s particular niche was playing “the subliminal stuff, those inferred parts that you might not be able to hear right out front but without it there’s a big hole.  It’s like the glue that holds the glue together.”

After Funkadelic, Catfish went on to play in Bootsy’s Rubber Band and also recorded with Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  In 2007 he reunited with Bootsy, Worrell, Clyde Stubblefield and others for the soundtrack to the Judd Apatow comedy “Superbad.”  A number of Cincinnati musicians gathered to play a tribute show for Catfish during July at a club in Roselawn, Ohio [Celebrities night club in the Valley Shopping Center on Reading Road, just a mile down the road from the Carrousel Inn].

Funeral arrangements have not been announced for Catfish, who had two children.

Bootsy’s Brother Succumbs to Cancer
Cincinnati Enquirer — August 6, 2010

KENNEDY HEIGHTS – Before there was Bootsy, there was Catfish.

The older brother of Cincinnati’s legendary funk icon, Phelps “Catfish” Collins was a jovial guitar player with a huge smile, a mentor who helped shape his brother’s musical career as well as his life.

“He was a father figure to my husband,” said Patti Collins, William “Bootsy” Collins’ wife. “He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Phelps Collins died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Collins was a lifelong musician and Cincinnati resident. He was born eight years before Bootsy, who gave him the nickname “Catfish” because he thought he looked like one.  He was fiercely protective of his family, once threatening to kill his father with a butcher knife if he saw him hurt their mother again, Bootsy told the Enquirer in an interview last year.

In 1968, Phelps and Bootsy Collins helped form local R&B band the Pacemakers, which became the rhythm section at the renowned King Records in Evanston.  They played with James Brown, backing him on such songs as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” as part of a group that became known as the J.B.’s.

James Brown & the J.B.’s – Bologna, Italy – April, 1971

In 1971, the brothers formed a flashy funk group called the House
Guests with band mates including drummer Frankie “Kash” Waddy and
former Pacemakers singer Philippé Wynne.  Wynne went on to lead a group
called the Spinners, and the rest joined the free-wheeling Parliament-
Funkadelic.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Bernie Worrell played with the
Collins brothers in Parliament-Funkadelic.  Worrell said he and Catfish
were the elders of the group.

“He was a loving, caring person, but at the same time, he wouldn’t
take any bullcrap when it came to business,” Worrell said.  “He was a
hell of a musician.  He taught me a lot about rhythms.  People seem to
forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s
creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

Phelps Collins later joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band and would go on to
play rhythm guitar on albums by Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  He also performed on the soundtrack to the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy
“Superbad” with Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and other original
members of the J.B.’s.

“He was one of probably the most underrated musicians in R&B and funk
history,” said Cincinnati bassist Chris “Freekbass” Sherman, who cites
both Collins brothers as influences.  “He’s such an amazing guitar
player.  No one did it like him.”

Patti Collins said her brother-in-law, a father of two who lived in
Kennedy Heights, made a life of music and continued to collaborate
with Bootsy as the brothers grew older.

About a month ago, local musicians gathered at Celebrities in Roselawn
to perform a tribute to Catfish, said Lincoln Ware, who hosts a daily
radio show on WDBZ-1230 AM.

Ware said Mr. Collins, always a boisterous and smiling presence,
clearly wasn’t feeling his best that night.  But he sat back anyway,
soaking in the music that had always meant so much to him.

Services are pending.

Fall, 1971 – “What So Never the Dance (pts. 1 & 2)”

The Other Lost King Album With the JBs

As it turns out, more than one planned project got shelved when James Brown made the big decision to leave Starday-King and sign on the dotted line with Polydor, to wit:

**TONIGHT – One Night Only!

Friday, September 28, 2018 from 6-8 PM | James Brown’s Lost King Album.

In August 1971, James Brown planned to release a triple vinyl album of his electrifying March 1971 concert at the Olympia in Paris, backed by the original JB’s, featuring Bootsy and Catfish Collins.  Sequenced and mixed by Brown himself for a King Records release, he considered it among his best work.  However, when Brown’s contract was sold to Polydor Records, the masters were shelved and the album was not released.  The complete concert recording would not be heard until 43 years later when Sundazed Records released it on “tri-fold” vinyl in July 2014.  Join Bootsy Collins protege, Freekbass, as he plays the album on his own Funk Radio show = streaming on Radio Artifact, and simulcast on Cincinnati’s WVXU FM (listen here).

Note:  Cincinnati music history fans will be interested to know that Kenny Poole (guitar) and arranger, David Matthews (organ) join The JB’s on one song — “Who Am I” — a tune on which James Brown plays on drums (assuming that Zero to 180 is correctly reading the musician credits).

“Chopper ’70”: Horn-Heavy Funk

Jaco, the 2015 documentary about the virtuosic electric fretless bassist, informs us that Jaco Pastorius’s first professional engagement was with former King recording artist, Wayne Cochran, whose contributions to the field of funk have not always been fully acknowledged.

50-DOLLAR 45

Wayne Cochran King 45-aaWhile there’s no denying James Brown’s pivotal musical influence, Cochran and his backing band, The C.C. Riders, bring their own creativity to bear on “Chopper 70” — an appropriately high-adrenaline way to bring to a close an album that bears the gritty title, Alive and Well and Living in a Bitch of a World:

“Chopper 70”     Wayne Cochran     1970

Pastorius would join the band by 1972, when Cochran & C.C. Riders had made the big move to Epic, an imprint of almighty Columbia.  Two years prior, Cochran and company would record a pair of albums for King (with the first issued on its Bethlehem subsidiary) that would both be released in 1970.

Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders:  ALIVE AND WELL and living in …

Wayne Cochran LP-a… a b*tch of a world

Wayne Cochran LP-gatefold

Dave Dexter, in his “Dexter’s Scrapbook” column for Billboard, would file this report on Cochran in the May 23, 1970 edition:

“Platinum-haired Wayne Cochran was driving a garbage truck in Georgia, the father of three sons.  Today’s he’s a sizzling nitery star, with his C.C. Riders, and a big gun on Starday-King disks.  He blames parents for the generation gap:  ‘In this world today, you’ve got to change, you’ve got to move with what’s happening and that way you’ll never grow old.  The kids do their thing in order to dig what they are digging more, not so they can hate the kid next to them.  I’ve never seen a fight at a teen-age concert and I think I never will.’

Does that make sense, assuming you dig what he’s digging?”

CLASSIC COVER:  High Point for ‘biker funk’ Culture

Wayne Cochran LP-1aaWayne Cochran LP-1bb

Zero to 180 regrets waiting until now to sing the praises of Cochran, who left us only a couple months ago, as it turns out.  Cochran’s large horn-heavy ensemble, I would learn from Matt Schudel’s obituary in The Washington Post, was famously unrelenting, as their “shows had no stopping point: The band kept vamping from one song to the next, as the music and audience reached a point of frenzy.”

Choppers for the teenyboppers:  vintage 1970 Raleigh ad

Raleigh Chopper - vintage 1970 adJackie Gleason, who wrote the liner notes for Cochran’s self-titled 1967 release on Chess, would call the singer (who would often leave the stage to take his show out into the audience) “the wildest guy I’ve ever seen in my life.”  Gleason’s dance ensemble leader, June Taylor, apparently “took ideas for her dancers from the C.C. Riders choreography” during Cochran’s extended mid-60s run at Miami’s major soul club, The Barn.

I count 12 musicians in this photo (courtesy of Discogs)

Wayne Cochran & the CC RidersImpossible to write about Cochran without making reference to Cochran’s mountainous dome of hair.  Neil Genzlinger, in his New York Times obituary, would point out who inspired the decision behind the hairdo’s platinum color — Johnny and Edgar Winter (“Every time the lights over their heads changed colors, their hair changed colors. And I said, “Now there’s the color, if I could figure out how to get it”) — thanks to Cochran’s appearance on Dave Letterman’s NBC Late Night show in 1982.

UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Photo from Michael Ochs Archives via PITCHFORK)

Wayne CochranCochran’s first stint with King would last about two years – from late 1963 through early 1965 – before similarly brief runs with Mercury (1965-66) and Chess (1967-68).  King founder, Syd Nathan, would pass the year prior to Cochran’s return to the label (now renamed Starday-King), whose first single release would be an elaborately-arranged two-part Beatles mash-up medley of “Hey Jude” and “Eleanor Rigby.”

King Records Turns 75!  Cataloging the Classics

Big tip of the hat to Tim Garry of School of Rock – Mason, OH for allowing Zero to 180 the opportunity to compile a list of classic recordings put out by King Records (and its subsidiaries) in time for the label’s 75th birthday celebration.  This special tip-top list of nearly 200 songs – stretching from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s – is a fascinating cross-section of popular music styles (secular, as well as sacred) from the original rock ‘n’ roll era and beyond.  This PDF document is to be updated over time, as additional classic King recordings are identified by talent scouts embedded here and abroad — click on link below:

Classic Tracks from King Records:  Zero to 180’s Top Picks

Zero to 180 - 45

Silver Spring’s Blues Home: Adelphi Records

Zero to 180 isn’t above recycling old tricks, like posting a “vintage” high-resolution image as a shameless distraction ploy to stall for time, while it finishes pulling together over fifty years of history celebrating Gene Rosenthal and his Silver Spring-based independent music operation, Adelphi Records.

The same December, 1979 issue of Unicorn Times that brought last month’s ultra high-resolution image of the ‘Three Wise Men’ ad for Track Recorders would also carry this half-page ad for Catfish Hodges promoting his latest Adelphi long-playing release, Eyewitness Blues.

(Click the image below twice in succession for maximum 3-D effect)

Adelphi - Catfish Hodge - Unicorn Times (Dec 79)

[vintage ad courtesy Bill Hanke Music Research Archives]

Gene Rosenthal’s story intersects with Track Recorders, but that not where it begins.  Follow Zero to 180 on Facebook so you can read the final installment of its Silver Spring music history trilogy, as soon as it hits the virtual newsstand.

“To the Left (and On the One)”     Catfish Hodge [from ‘Eyewitness Blues’]

Track Recorders: Silver Spring II

NOTICE!   This is a majorly revamped version of a piece from the summer of 2016 — with enhanced content — to be followed in close succession by a suitably elaborate history of Gene Rosenthal and Adelphi Records. although sandwiched in between will be a history spotlight on Track’s Chief Engineer, Bill McCullough.

Perhaps someday in the not-too-distant future, Silver Spring will organize an event to celebrate all the music history attached to Track Recorders, a sound studio upstairs in the Cissel-Lee Building (directly above the present-day Urban Butcher) on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland – just over the DC line – that saw action in the 1970s, ’80s & ’90s.  Stevie Nicks may have been originally inspired by a name on an interstate sign, but as it turned out, her instincts were correct:  Silver Spring in the mid-to-late1970s was a focal point for a fair amount of musical magic, as indicated in the hyper-linked list below.

downtown Silver Spring’s Last Spanish colonial revival – Track on 2nd floor

Track Recorders - 2009

DC-area historian, Marcie Stickle, writing in 2009 about the history of the Cissel-Lee building, notes that this “significant two-story brick structure was Spanish Colonial Revival, all the ‘rage’ at the time.  With its unique black slate canopies angled around two sides of the roofline, the Cissel-Lee Building was the ONLY remaining such structure in all of the [Central Business District].”

Notable Moments in Track Recorders’ Music History
(chronologically speaking)

Track Recorders 45-aaTrack Recorders - Ralph Stanley LP

  • The Young Senators‘ classic funk 45 – “Jungle” – was recorded in 1970 at Track and reissued in 2016 (with picture sleeve) on Chicago’s Numero Group / Innovation.  The A-side, according to The Beat!  Go-Go Music from Washington, DC (thank you, Ken Giles!) hit number one on local and regional R&B music charts and led the band to Eddie Kendricks, who used them as musical support for his first solo tour after leaving The Temptations.
  • Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys made a series of recordings at Track between the years 1971 and 1976 that would later be issued on 1991 CD compilation Bound to Ride.

Track Recorders - Sons of Thunder LPTrack Recorders LP-aa

[click on triangle below to activate recording]

“We the People”     (Chuck Brown and) The Soul Searchers     1972

“We the People” (not to be confused with the Allen Toussaint composition)  hit #40 on the R&B Chart, spending a total of six weeks on the chart.  Soul Brother would reissue We the People for the UK market in 2006.

Track Recorders 45-bbTrack Recorders - Anacostia 45

Track Recorders 45-ccAdelphi - Gerry Goffin 45-bb

Track Recorders 45 History Spotlight:  Julius Brockington
Old Sounds Refashioned Anew

Julius Brockington‘s 1973 landmark 45 — “This Feeling” b/w “Cosmic Force” — would be yet another 7-inch record laid down at Silver Spring‘s Track Recorders that has been able to fetch three figures at auction within the last five or so years.

“This Feeling” + “Cosmic Force”     Julius Brockington     1973

“This Feeling,” points out Soul Sides, enjoys the distinction of being reissued the following year, in 1974, as a two-part “Freedom” remix that kicks off with an ever-so-slightly menacing mini-Moog line.   Indeed, is this one of the earliest instances – as Soul Sides asks – “where a seven-inch single got remixed onto 7-inch again”?

Prior to releasing this single (quite possibly the Burman label’s one and only title), Brockington recorded three full-length albums for Today Records – 1972’s Sophisticated Funk & The Brockingtons, plus 1973’s The United Chair – that enjoyed distribution in France.

Thirty years later, “alternative” hip hop group Jurassic 5 would sample “This Feeling” to trippy effect on “Freedom” from 2002’s Power in Numbers album:

“Freedom”     Jurassic 5     2002

Recorded in “Silver Springs” – Remixed in “PhilA” – Released on “Balto”-based labelTrack Recorders - Julius Brockington 45

Who knew, in 1973, the global reach Brockington’s Silver Spring-based sounds would enjoy – including Japan, France, and Romania – over 40 years later?

Track Recorders LP-bbTrack Recorders - Claude Jones EP

Track Recorders - Pentagram 45Track Recorders 45-dd

  • Pentagram recorded their fuzzed-out cover of “Under My Thumb” — with inspired dual guitar solo — at Track in 1974, produced by Skip Groff and Bob Fowler.  Copies of the original 45 have sold at auction for over five hundred bucks.
  • Danny (Gatton) and the Fat Boys [Billy Hancock & Dave Elliott] would record their debut album in 1974 at Track and issue a 45 whose B-side (“Harlem Nocturne“) made folks sit up and take notice of the amazing new guitarist.

Track Recorders History Spotlight:
Johnny Castle - Thrillbilly

Johnny Castle

Johnny Castle, who has performed and/or recorded with just about every musician — Johnny Gimble, Jimmy Arnold, Joe MaphisScreamin’ Jay Hawkins, John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Mac Wiseman, J.D. Crowe, Doug Sahm, Root Boy Slim, Catfish Hodge, Danny Gatton, Martha Hull, Tex Rubinowitz & Eddie Angel, Switchblade (Ratso, Angel & Jim Dougherty — later Mark Wenner & Steuart Smith), Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun, John Tichey & Andy Stein, the Twangbangers (honky tonk supergroup – Redd Volkaert, Dallas Wayne & Joe Goldmark), the Thrillbillys (his own band), and (currently) The Nighthawks, to name a few — has logged serious time at Silver Spring’s Track Recorders.

Johnny Castle started his musical career in the DC area with Crank – including guitarist Geoff Richardson – a popular hard rock outfit (vintage photos) who once opened for Hendrix and The Allman Brothers.  Crank recorded at Track during the studio’s early years, when the band was able to get a sweet deal on a package that also included promotional materials.  No recordings were ever released, but Barry Richards got hold of a tape of one song (“Used To Be Worried”) and, played it so often on his radio show, according to Castle, it made the Top 10 one week. 

Johnny Castle would go on to record a number of other sessions at Track:

  • Three albums with Eddie & Martha Adcock‘s II Generation for Mt. Airy, Maryland-based Rebel Records:  1974’s Head Cleaner, 1975’s We Call It Grass, and 1976’s Second Impression.
  • Switchblade‘s 45 “She Makes Me Rock Too Much” b/w “Tight Blue Jeans” (notable for its marriage of reggae rhythm with a rockabilly feel) from 1981 — with Ratso, Dougherty & Ste(w)art Smith.  The A-side features a blood-curdling scream near song’s end that was recorded in isolation and nearly sent a piano tuner, who was intensely focused on his work, into cardiac arrest.   Picture sleeve images and recording credits at this link.
  • Page Wilson‘s 1983 album, Road Tired, Wired and Ready, which features musical support from Mike Auldridge, Steuart Smith, Eddie & Martha Adcock, Robbie Magruder, Akira Otsuka & Mark Greenhouse (harmony vocals & recording engineer), among others.
  • Interrobang, featuring a young Linwood Taylor – “Washington, DC’s premier blues man” – who tells Zero to 180 that Castle played on two songs (“Suspicious” and “Last Goodbye”), one of which being a runner-up winner on a DC101 home tapes contest, resulting in free studio time at the Warehouse in Philadelphia!
  • Numerous “vanity” sessions on self-released recordings by local-area artists.

Castle would also join forces with Mark Greenhouse (guitars/keys/vocals), Steuart Smith (guitar), Pete Ragusa (drums), and Mitch Collins (keyboards) to record four songs at Track as a fun recording side project known as Dog Days Revue.

Track Recorders LP-ddTrack Recorders - Mike Auldridge LP

Silver Spring Music History Moment:
Linda Ronstadt at Track Recorders

This bit from Bob Kirsch’s “Studio Track” Billboard column in April 27, 1974 edition:

Bill Tate, owner of Track Recording, Inc. in Silver Spring, Md., reports that Linda Ronstadt was in recently for three sessions.  Lowell George handled the production and also played on the sessions.  George Massenburg handled the engineering.  Columbia’s David Bromberg also played.  Track has recently put in a new quadrasonic control room, complete with a custom built Neve console.  David Harrison of Studio Supply in Nashville designed.  Finally, local bluegrass group Seldom Scene was in working on sessions.”

Track Recorders LP-zTrack Recorders LP-ee

“[Linda] came down with the flu in 1974 while passing through Washington with a Jackson Browne tour and ended up staying behind to recover at the Bethesda house of John Starling, a member of the Seldom Scene whom she had met through her friend Emmylou Harris. A snowstorm came, and there was a houseful of musicians, one of whom was Paul Craft, who wrote ‘Keep Me From Blowing Away,’ which she decided to record as soon as she could.” [based on Ronstadt’s 2013 memoir, Simple Dreams:  A Musical Memoir]

Worth noting that Lowell George is credited on one track – “Willin’” – which also must have been laid down at Track (see Billboard item above), with Sneaky Pete Kleinow on steel guitar.

Track Recorders - Andrew White LP-backTrack Recorders - Bill Holland & Rent's Due LP

  • One-time Stevie Wonder bassist and accomplished reed player, Andrew White, recorded 1974 album Passion Flower – one of Dusty Grooves‘ “favorite 70s albums” – at Track.  Curiously, a different drummer (Bernard Sweetney of the Reuben Brown Trio) is listed on Discogs than the one (Keith Killgo – of DC’s Blackbyrds) identified on the back cover above.
  • Bill Holland & Rent’s Due If It Ain’t One Thing was recorded & mixed substantially at Track in 1974-75 and released 1975.  Blues Art Studio informs me that Holland had been keyboardist for The Nighthawks prior to forming Rent’s Due.  [more info in upcoming history of Adelphi Records]
  • THIS JUST IN:  Musical encyclopedia and beloved WHFS disc jockey “Weasel” blew Zero to 180’s mind with the bombshell that the mighty NRBQ recorded two songs at Track Recorders in 1975, one of which – “Cecilia” – would end up on 1977’s All Hopped Up.

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  • Gloria Gaynor‘s 1975 album Experience was recorded, in part, at Track (though listed in the credits as being located in ‘DC’ – same with Banbarra’s 45 and Clovers’ below).  MGM would issue Gaynor’s version of “How High the Moon,” with “My Man’s Gone” (written by Gaynor) as a non-LP B-side.
  • Gloria Gaynor would return to Track the following year (though now signed with Polydor) for I’ve Got You — both albums engineered by Tony Bongiovi (cousin of Jon).

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  • The Clovers – one of Ahmet Ertegun’s favorite groups from the doo-wop era – recorded a 45 at Track in 1975 that was written by Billy Hancock and co-produced by Hancock and Obie O’Brien.
  • The Reuben Brown Trio Featuring Richie Cole‘s Starburst album on Adelphi was recorded at Track in 1975 and released 1976 [more info in upcoming history of Adelphi Records].

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  • Black Heat‘s farewell album, 1975’s Keep on Runnin‘ — recorded at both Track & Atlantic Records studios — was issued in Europe in 2016, three years prior in Japan).  Soul version of “Drive My Car” would be issued by Atlantic as Black Heat’s final 45.
  • Jimi Hendrix‘s posthumous LP Midnight Lightning (with numerous session players overdubbed) was produced, in part, at Track and released in November, 1975  [*special bonus feature at the end of this piece].  Track would also be one of three studios used to produce Hendrix’s Crash Landing in similar fashion, released eight months earlier in March.

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  • All of The Nighthawks‘ albums recorded for Adelphi Records involved Track Recorders to some degree:  1976’s Open All Nite, 1977’s Side Pocket Shot and 1978’s Jacks and Kings (with members of the Muddy Waters Band) were all engineered and mixed at Track — meanwhile, 1976’s Nighthawks Live was recorded at Bethesda’s Psyche Delly by Track recording engineer Obie O’Brien (and Roger Byrd of Sonority Sound), 1980’s Full House included unreleased tracks from Jacks and Kings, and 1982’s Times Four included 1977-79 studio sessions laid down at Track.

Track Recorders Musical Spotlight:  The NighthawksMark Wenner

Mark Wenner

Harmonica ace, Mark Wenner, certainly knows the inside of Track Recorders as “founding father” and remaining original member of The Nighthawks.  Around the time The Nighthawks (with Jimmy Thackery on guitar, Jan Zukowski on bass & Pete Ragusa on drums) were recording their first album for Adelphi Records in 1976, Wenner recalls Obie O’Brien (engineer/producer) and Lance Quinn (studio guitarist) in the throes of recording intensely-layered (e.g., banjo lines) disco productions for the likes of Gloria Gaynor.

Younger readers may not realize that hewing to a classic blues (but “well-recorded”) sound was going against the grain at the time, but Open All Nite – four musicians, no external players – ending up being reasonably successful from a sales standpoint, Wenner tells Zero to 180.  (1976, incidentally, would also be the year when Obie O’Brien would press Wenner and members of the Rosslyn Mountain Boys into service to record a novelty single with vocalist Bro Smith – “Big Foot” – that reached as high as #57 in the pop chart!)

  c1976 Jonas Cash Promotions (picture sleeve)          “Engineered by Obie” – 45 label

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The band’s next studio effort, however, Side Pocket Shot – a ‘Revolver’ concept, with each song different from the other – was another kettle of fish altogether, with Billy Price’s Rhythm King Horns, for example, spilling out out of a limo one day with a bottle of whiskey and whatnot, recording their horn parts and then immediately rolling back out of town.  Not to mention the addition of pedal steel, percussion, and backing vocals.  In the wake of Obie O’Brien’s departure, however, the album would be engineered by Cap’n Jon and Gerry Wyckoff at Track.

Opening for Muddy Waters for three different runs at DC’s famed Cellar Door – in conjunction with block booking at Track Recorders – facilitated the band’s crowning achievement, Jacks and Kings, with Muddy Waters’ band members, Pinetop Perkins (piano), Guitar Jr. (i.e., Luther Johnson), Bob Margolin (guitar), plus Dave Maxwell (kick-off track:  “For You My Love“).  Engineered  by Bill McCullough and Gerry Wyckoff, Jacks and Kings would be a big seller for Adelphi and one that would prompt the band’s first major tour outside of the mid-Atlantic area — Chicago, Denver, Austin, New Orleans, and Kansas City, a key distribution point.

Wenner remembers Track as not only a great place to hang (e.g., a big party for Jacks and Kings, with a refueling stop at Little Tavern and more than one cinema run to catch Raging Bull), but also an adventurous place to ply his trade (e.g., “triple-mic’ing” his harmonica in a stairwell, recording it at three different levels).

The Nighthawks (who appeared as themselves in the second season of The Wire) are still raging strong today, with Johnny Castle (bass), Paul Bell (guitar), and Mark Stutso (drums).  2010’s Last Train to Bluesville, recorded live and acoustic on B.B. King’s Bluesville channel on Sirius/XM (Pete Ragusa’s farewell appearance), would win the band their first-ever Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation, while 2015’s Back Porch Party features another well-received set of acoustic blues that mixes classics (e.g., Ike Turner’s “Matchbox” and Willie Dixon’s “Tiger In Your Tank”) with originals, such as Wenner’s “Guard My Heart” and Stutso’s “Down To My Last Million Tears.”

Q:  How challenging was it to get permission from the Art Institute of Chicago to use the Edward Hopper painting on Open All Nite?
A:  $60 fee and use of their slide, with no printing over the actual picture.

[Thanks to Linda Parker Photography for use of photo above]

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  • In 1976, Del McCoury & The Dixie Pals would record three tracks at Track (including “Foggy River“) that would later enjoy release on 1991’s Classic Bluegrass CD compilation.
  • Country Gentlemen‘s gospel album, Calling My Children Home, was recorded at Track between April, 1976 – August, 1977 (kick-off tune: “Place Prepared for Me“), as was 1976’s Joe’s Last Train and no doubt other albums released on Rebel Records (founded in Mt. Rainier, Maryland).

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  • The Ramones‘ second album Leave Home from 1977 was mixed, in part, at Track.
  • Root Boy Slim, one-time Silver Spring resident, with backing from the Sex Change Band and the Rootettes, would record 1979’s Zoom (whose classic cover was designed by Dick Bangham) at Track.  “World War 3” b/w “Dare To Be Fat” would be issued in the US, as well as the UK, albeit with the two sides flippedThis just in:  Root Boy’s 1983 album Dog Secrets – recorded at Track – would enjoy the addition of a bonus track, “Go Go Girls Don’t Cry” (thanks to John Simson & Dick Bangham), when reissued in 2010 on CD.

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  • Bill Blue Band — Two Adelphi LP releases recorded and mixed at Track:
    Sing Like Thunder (recorded 1978, released 1979)  and Givin’ Good Boys A Bad Name (recorded 1979, released 1980).  [see upcoming history of Adelphi Records].
  • Catfish Hodge‘s Bout With the Blues album (save for two tracks) was recorded by Mark Greenhouse and Bill McCullough at Track in 1980.  At the time of the album’s release, interestingly, Catfish would form a new group – Chicken Legs – using members of his own band combined with “four of the five remaining members of Little Feat.”  [see upcoming history of Adelphi Records].

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  • Howard University‘s Jazz Ensemble (featuring Greg Osby) recorded one album each in 1979 and 1980 at Track.
  • Gregory Charles Royal‘s 1980 single “Pain” b/w “Take a Ride to Heaven” (reissued in 2016 on Swiss label, High Jazz – and currently sold out) was recorded at TrackRoyal, who would be invited by Art Blakey to join his Jazz Messengers while still a tenth-grader, later founded the New York Jazz Film Festival and currently serves as artistic director of DC’s American Youth Symphony.

John Simson’s Track History Spotlight:   Tori AmosJohn Simson

American University professor, John Simson — one-time recording artist who became a manager (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Switchblade) and thirty-year entertainment lawyer (Chuck Brown, Government Issue, Root Boy Slim), as well as frequent lecturer on music industry and copyright issues, Executive Director of SoundExchange, and Chair of the Board of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, among many other accomplishments — informed Zero to 180 that a teenage Tori Amos had recorded some of her earliest demos at Track Recorders.

The youngest person, at age five, to win a Peabody Conservatory scholarship, Tori (and her family) would later move from Baltimore to Silver Spring in 1972 so that her father could serve as pastor at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in the Adelphi section (coincidentally) of Silver Spring.  As an underage performer, Tori would be chaperoned to Washington-area piano bars by her father, who would also mail tapes of her own original recordings to record labels.

Mark Greenhouse once played a demo cassette of demonstration recordings made at Track to John Simson, who was impressed enough with her talent to travel to Georgetown to hear Amos perform live.  This Wikipedia page claims that “Baltimore” – submitted in response to a Baltimore Orioles theme song competition – was recorded in 1979 at Track, with guitar accompaniment by Max Welker.  This past August, Welker would post an audio clip of a demo Amos made for “Walking With You” that is said to have been recorded at Track in 1980.

Curious coincidence — Julius Brockington was once signed to Today Records, a subsidiary of Perception Records:  the label that released John Simson’s 1971’s album.

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  • The Muffins‘ album <185> – with Fred Frith in the producer’s chair, as well as performer – was recorded in 1980 at Track and reissued in 1996 on Silver Spring’s own Cuneiform!  The band moves from longer to shorter form on this album, as evidenced by “Under Dali’s Wing.”
  • Little Feat odds ‘n’ sods compilation, 1981’s Hoy-Hoy, includes tracks recorded at ten different studios, including Track — so says this catalog record for the version released in the Netherlands.  However, I just discovered that the catalog record for the 1990 German release includes much more detailed recording info — but no mention of Track Recorders.  Which raises the question:  Did Little Feat (not just Lowell George) ever record at Track?  Bill McCullough actually answered this question in September, 2016:  Little Feat (as would The Allman Brothers and Kiss, et al.) recorded demos only for “fun” at Track.

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  • Harvey Reid‘s 1981 debut album Nothin’ But Guitar – his first of six for the Woodpecker label – was recorded at Track.
  • Tommy Keene‘s Strange Alliance from 1982 – his debut LP – was recorded at Track (listen to title track).  Album engineered by Mark Greenhouse & Jim Crenca and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk.

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  • Michele Valeri (featured in this 2020 piece, with Bob Devlin) recorded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning album Dinosaur Rock with collaborator, Michael Stein, at Track Recorders in 1983.  The musicians who made this album roar to life include Pete Kennedy (guitar), Jon Carroll (piano), Robbie Magruder (drums), Bryan Smith (bass), Bill Emerson (banjo), Akira Otsuke (mandolin), Jeff Agnew (pedal steel), Marty Erickson (tuba) & Greg Artzner (concertina).  LP originally released 1984 on Caedmon, a prolific spoken word/audiobook label founded in 1952 by Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney, according to Discogs (later acquired by HarperCollins) — click here to check out the title track.

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  • Billy Hancock would hold three recording sessions at Track in 1983 – as detailed in 2002 Ripsaw CD release Wanted: True Rock ‘n’ Roll [thanks, Bill Hanke!] – that would yield a total of ten songs.  As co-producer Jonathan ‘The Spider’ Strong recalls in the liner notes:

Martha Hull did the female side of the duet on this 1957 Fats Domino number [“When I See You“].  One of the vivid memories of this session was The Velons and Martha, in between recordings, singing The Dominoes’ ‘Sixty Minute Man’ together in the studio hallway.  Adding excellent piano and sax overdubs many years later were Daryl Davis and Chris Watling, respectively.  Daryl had almost become a Ripsaw artist more than 20 years earlier.  He had played piano on the original version of ‘Redskins Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ which songwriter David Nelson had submitted to Ripsaw in 1980.”

Martha Hull at Track – photo courtesy of Ripsaw

  • Tex Rubinowitz‘s debut full-length album release would feature five “new” songs — including two written with Eddie Angel of Los Straitjackets, “Rock -n- Roll Ivy” and “No Club (Lone Wolf)” — that were laid down at Track Recorders in 1985.  Tex’s first single would come out in 1978 on DC-based Alladin, whose roster included Danny & the Fat Boys, The Nighthawks, Powerhouse, and the aforementioned Clovers.

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  • Tony Rice‘s Me and My Guitar — featuring Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas & Sam Bush, et al. — was recorded (in part) and mixed at Track in 1986 (to get technical:  “Analog multi-tracks mixed to Sony 701 PCM digital system at Track Recorders.”)
  • Root Boy Slim‘s Left for Dead – recorded at Track in 1987*, with Ernie Lancaster and Steuart Smith both on guitar – was engineered & mixed (in part) by Bill McCullough.  Album released in the US on King Snake Records, in the UK on Bedrock [*thanks to Bobby Uptight, who points out in the comment below that though the album “was *released* in 1987, it was recorded at Track in one session on the eve of the Shah fleeing Iran January 16th, 1979”].

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  • Fats Domino, according to this FAQ – has at least two unfinished albums, including an album recorded in 1982 “in a suburb of Washington, DC” that is either Track or Kensington’s Big Mo.  Track’s own Bill McCullough, along with Marc D’Amico, would both concur:  Fats recorded at Track!
  • Larry Carlton‘s 1993 album Renegade Gentleman was overdubbed, in part, at Track.

 *   *   *   You Could Be Track Recorders’ Next Recording Engineer!   *   *   *
Full text of ad from August, 1973 edition of dB Magazine

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WANTED: RECORDING ENGINEER  $12,000 – $18,000/yr.  Negotiable

  • Do you have a total knowledge of all aspects of audio recordings?
  • Can you appreciate all forms of rock and soul and get along with all types of personalities?
  • Can you take raw musical talent and convert it into a sellable product on tape?
  • Do you know the sound of a hit?  Do you want to cut hits?  Do you want success badly enough to eat every top selling single and LP you’re not on?
  • ln short, are you a born winner?
  • If you can honestly answer “yes” to all the above, we want you to join us and we’ll pay whatever’s fair.  Track Recorders has had eight national chart records in the last year.  Washington, D.C. is the last major music frontier and we’re the leaders.  Our studio has all the standard quality equipment — 3M 16-track, 25-in/16-out custom console, EMT reverb, JBL 4320 monitors, Dolby, Kepex, varispeed, grand piano, Hammond B3 organ, amps, drums, excellent test gear and maintenance.  Your weekends will generally be free.  The Washington area offers great entertainment plus Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean.

Call or write to: TRACK RECORDERS, INC.
8226 Georgia Ave. #11-2, Silver Spring, Md. 20910.  (301) KL5-xxxx”

SONS OF THUNDER‘s Steve Halverson at Track Recorders – July, 1972

Track Recorders - July 1972Track Recorders:  The Toddler Years
From Sam Sutherland’s “Studio Track” Billboard column in the June 17, 1972 edition:

“From Silver Springs [sic], Md., Track Recorders has noted activities there.  That studio was D.C.’s only 8-track facility when it opened two years ago, and, last November, they became Washington’s first 16-track facility.  A custom-designed board built and designed by the studio’s personnel, uses API and Suburban Sound components.  The 16-track machine is 3M, and both the main studio (there are two rooms, but the second is incomplete [notehistorical foreshadowing — read Zero to 180’s follow-up piece on Adelphi Records!] and the control room have been redesigned acoustically, with modifications now underway.

Founders Cotter Wells, Bill Tate, and Jim [Sennott] have been aiming the studio at the area’s local musicians, but they are now broadening their work to include outside artists, and in-house productions are also being considered.  Chief engineer and “small owner” (his words) Cory Pearson reported sessions by [Masked Man & the Agents, below], produced for Musicor Records by Jim Burston; CarrCee Productions recording The Soul Searchers for Sussex; Van McCoy‘s productions for Whitehouse Productions; and Mike Auldridge, working on a Takoma album [i.e., label founded by John Fahey].”

Mask Man and the Agents

John Kelly‘s review of Track Recorders from his DC-MD-VA studio overview
in the November 6, 1987 edition of The Washington Post

TRACK RECORDERS — 8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.  589-4349.  $65/hour.

“Track just celebrated its 18th birthday and the list of major acts who have recorded there make it one of the most venerable studios in town.  Track alumni include Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Jimi Hendrix.  Local musicians, including Teresa Gunn, Random Samples and the Cultevaders, also take advantage of Track’s services. According to vice president/studio manager Mark Greenhouse, Track also runs its own vanity record label (it’s called, appropriately, Vanity Records).  The acts on Vanity put up the money themselves and are rewarded with an ultra-slick package that includes record, sleeve and promotional advice.  8-TRACK.”

Further Reading:  Track Recorders

John Kelly‘s March 14, 2015 column in The Washington Post that reveals the history behind the 1983 jingle for Mattress Discounters — a musical ad that haunts to this day.

Richard Harrington‘s August 13, 1986 Washington Post celebration of Track’s sixteenth birthday — and in which we learn that The Allman Brothers recorded an unreleased 15/8 instrumental jam (“Chet’s Tune”) and that Track’s staff were musicians too, thus “the work has a certain spirit and attitude, reflecting a more intense personal relationship between technicians and musicians,” according to Mark Greenhouse.

Richard Harrington‘s December 27, 1981 Washington Post piece about the recording of a live Nighthawks album at The Bayou (Ten Years Live, with its randy runout groove etching) by Bill McCullough of Track Recorders.

Bill Nowlin‘s history behind the recording of J.D. Crowe and the New South — an iconic album (re-released in 2016) and one that helped establish Rounder Records’ reputation.

Wilfully Obscure‘s ruminations (parts one & two) about the recording of Tommy Keene’s Strange Alliance album.

Note vintage 1970s “Midnight Lightning” belt buckle

Midnight Lightning belt buckle

*Midnight Lightning:
Posthumous Hendrix Album Coming

Excerpt from Nov. 22, 1975 Edition of Aniston, Alabama’s Star Newspaper

 “Once [producer Alan] Douglas had winnowed the 3,000 hours down to four hours of especially promising material, the tapes were turned over to [partner Tony] Bongiovi, who was expected to reduce the four hours of raw stock to the final product an eight-song, 36-minute album that will be entitled Midnight Lightning.

Bongiovi and his co-workers at Track Recorders, especially staff engineer ‘Obie’ O’Brien and session musician Lance Quinn, have gone to extraordinary lengths in their attempt to remain faithful to what seem to be Hendrix’s intentions.  Guitarist Quinn played a Fender Stratocaster, the same model that Hendrix used, for all his overdubs, and brought the strings down half a step to the F flat [!] tuning that Hendrix favored.  ‘But when we came in we weren’t trying to copy what he did or to make somebody sound like him,’ said Bongiovi.’  ‘We were trying to match the sound of the record.  So Hendrix is the star of the album; we just had to fill in all the air that was on the record with what Jimi had planned to put on later.’

And that’s why relatively anonymous session men like Quinn, drummer Alan Schwartzberg, and bassist Bob Babbit were used on Midnight Lightning. ‘We didn’t want to use any soloist guitarists like a Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton,’ says Bongiovi.  ‘Imagine if we had them on the album – they’re stars in their own right.  It would have ended up a guitar duel, and that’s not fair because Jimi’s not really here to defend himself.”

But even without the opportunity to solo and show off a bit, Quinn, a disciple of Washington’s Roy Buchanan and an admirer of England’s Jeff Beck, finds the Hendrix sessions rewarding.  ‘In some spots,’ says the corpulent [!] guitarist, ‘it was almost like playing in a band with him.  And you get a chance to hear him in situations that don’t turn up on record.  When we listened to the tapes, we heard the parts people never hear on record.  Some of the ideas he tried were amazingly creative things that might not work on record but which, as a guitar player, I could appreciate.  The guy was unbelievable.  He could really play guitar.  It wasn’t just that he had mastered the wah-wah pedal, feedback and the other effects.  He was a really great guitar player who took something that no one ever did before.  He just jumped into the space age all of a sudden instead of just playing rock & roll.  He was the most creative there ever was.  You can hear it in every note he played.”

Track Recorders:  A Postscript

On Tuesday, May 25, 1971, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Track Recorders Incorporated – as this link shows – by Track Recorders, Inc.  The trademark registration for Track, sadly, expired on June 7, 1993.

cissel-lee building, current incarnation (sans spanish colonial):  Urban ButcherTrack Recorders - 2016

In Track Recorders’ Own Backyard:  Bonus Reggae History!

Silver Spring is also home to DC’s first reggae club, Spring Garden, according to the October, 1978 edition of Unicorn Times, with Honey Boy Martin (famous for rude boy classic, “Dreader Than Dread“) and The Family Reunion serving as the house band.  The address for Spring Garden — 1160 Bonifant St — would put the venue just a couple blocks from Track Recorders (toward the Metro) on a part of Bonifant that has since been subsumed by the Silver Spring Transit Station.

Track Recorders: Silver Spring

NOTICE:  This piece has since been majorly revamped with much new content — in fact, ditch this version in favor of the January, 2017 re-boot!

Perhaps someday in the not-too-distant future, Silver Spring will organize an event to celebrate all the music history attached to Track Recorders, a sound studio upstairs in the Cissel-Lee Building (directly above the present-day Urban Butcher) on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland – just over the DC line – that saw action in the 1970s, ’80s & ’90s.  Stevie Nicks may have been originally inspired by a name on an interstate sign, but as it turned out, her instincts were correct:  Silver Spring in the mid-to-late1970s was a focal point for a fair amount of musical magic, as indicated in the hyper-linked list below.

downtown Silver Spring’s Last Spanish colonial revival – Track on 2nd floorTrack Recorders - 2009Photo courtesy of JUST UP THE PIKE

Notable Moments in Track Recorders’ Music History
(chronologically speaking)

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Track Recorders 45 History Spotlight:  Julius Brockington
Silver Spring Straddles the Centuries

Julius Brockington‘s 1973 landmark 45 — “This Feeling” b/w “Cosmic Force” — would be yet another 7-inch record laid down at Silver Spring‘s Track Recorders that has been able to fetch three figures at auction within the last five or so years.

“This Feeling” + “Cosmic Force”     Julius Brockington     1973

“This Feeling,” points out Soul Sides, enjoys the distinction of being reissued the following year, in 1974, as a two-part “Freedom” remix that kicks off with an ever-so-slightly menacing mini-Moog line.   Indeed, is this one of the earliest instances – as Soul Sides asks – “where a seven-inch single got remixed onto 7-inch again”?

Prior to releasing this single (quite possibly the Burman label’s one and only title), Brockington recorded three full-length albums for Today Records – 1972’s Sophisticated Funk & The Brockingtons, plus 1973’s The United Chair – that enjoyed distribution in France.

Recorded in “Silver Springs” – Remixed in “PhilA” – Released on “Balto”-based labeljulius-brockington-45-bb

Thirty years later, “alternative” hip hop group Jurassic 5 would sample “This Feeling” to trippy effect on “Freedom” from 2002’s Power in Numbers album:

“Freedom”     Jurassic 5     2002

2002 would also find “This Feeling” selected, fittingly. as the final track of a heavy soul compilation curated by Christian McBride and aimed at the UK market — Fat & Funky: 45 Kings II.   Brockington’s Silver Spring-based sounds still enjoy renown worldwide — in France, for instance, via LeMellotron music blog, as well as B*Town Project.

  • Joe Quarterman & Free Soul‘s debut album – which saw release in 1973 in the US, UK, Venezuela, Spain, France, Italy and Japan – was recorded at Track.
  • Claude Jones (“Warrenton, Virginia’s answer to the Grateful Dead—a hippie band whose members all lived together at a rural outpost they called The Amoeba Farm”)  recorded their 5-track EP Sykesville in 1973.
  • Pentagram recorded their fuzzed-out cover of “Under My Thumb” (with inspired dual guitar solo) in 1974 at Track.
  • Danny (Gatton) and the Fat Boys [Billy Hancock & Dave Elliott] would record their debut album in 1974 at Track and issue a 45 whose B-side (“Harlem Nocturne“) made folks sit up and take notice of the amazing new guitarist.

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  • Seldom Scene‘s Old Train album was recorded in 1974 at Track.
  • Mike Auldridge‘s 1974 album Blues and Blue Grass was recorded at Track.
  • (One-time Stevie Wonder bassist and accomplished reed player) Andrew White recorded 1974 album Passion Flower at Track.
  • At least one song on Linda Ronstadt‘s Heart Like a Wheel album from 1974 was recorded at Track.
  • Emmylou HarrisPieces of the Sky album was recorded at Track in 1975.
  • J.D. Crowe and the New South‘s debut album (featuring the stellar musicianship of J.D. Crowe, Jerry Douglas, Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, and Bobby Slone) was recorded January, 1975 at Track.

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  • Tony Rice‘s California Autumn album from 1975 was recorded at Track (and released the following year in Japan), while 1986’s Me and My Guitar — featuring Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas & Sam Bush, et al. — was recorded (in part) and mixed at Track.
  • Powerhouse – featuring guitarist Tom Principato – recorded 1975’s Night Life at Track (in which Bullmoose Jackson was pulled out of retirement for a guest vocal).
  • Stephen Spano‘s 1975 album Eye to Eye on Adelphi Records (featuring kick-off tune “Love Is the Sound“) was recorded, in part, at Track and today commands up to three figures at auction.

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  • Gloria Gaynor‘s 1975 album Experience was recorded, in part, at Track — as was the following year’s I’ve Got You album.
  • Black Heat‘s 1975 album Keep on Runnin‘ was recorded at both Track and Atlantic Records studios (and reissued in Europe in 2016 — three years prior, in Japan).
  • Jimi Hendrix‘s posthumous LP Midnight Lightning (with numerous session players overdubbed) was produced, in part, at Track Recorders and released in 1975.

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  • Banbarra‘s classic 1975 A-side “Shack Up” — a sampler’s dream (A Certain Ratio, Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad, 3rd Bass, Stetsasonic, Gang Starr, Kool Keith, and Happy Mondays, et al.) — was recorded at Track.
  • Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals would record 1976 album Land of Love at Track.
  • O’Donel Levy recorded Windows (with Randy Brecker, et al.) in August, 1976 at Track.
  • The Nighthawks‘ four albums for Adelphi Records all involved Track Recorders: 1976’s Open All Nite was engineered at Track; 1977’s Side Pocket Shot was both engineered and mixed at Track; the following year’s Jacks and Kings (with Pinetop Perkins and Bob Margolin) would actually be recorded at Track; and 1982’s Times Four would include 1977-78 studio sessions laid down at Track.

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  • Bill Horton‘s free-form, Beefheart-esque album – 1976’s Dancehall for Midgets – would be assembled at Track.
  • Thomas Crawford‘s 1976 album The Peak Experience was recorded, in part, at Track.
  • Del McCoury & The Dixie Pals would record three tracks at Track Recorders in 1976 that would later enjoy release on 1991’s Classic Bluegrass CD compilation.
  • Country Gentlemen‘s Calling My Children Home album was recorded in 1977 at Track.
  • Acclaimed bluegrass musician Jimmy Arnold recorded 1977’s Jimmy Arnold-Guitar at Track.
  • Coup de Grass‘ 1978 album Rhythm and Bluegrass – on Adelphi Records – was recorded at Track (see “album spotlight” in upcoming Adelphi Records history piece).

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  • The Ramones‘ second album Leave Home from 1978 was mixed, in part, at Track.
  • Root Boy Slim (one-time Silver Spring resident) would record 1979’s Zoom – whose classic cover was designed by Dick Bangham – with the Sex Change Band and the Rootettes at Track, as well as 1987’s Left for Dead.

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  • RussnPaul‘s 1979 album See You in Court was recorded entirely at Track.
  • Original Fetish‘s Warped 45 – “Standing in Line at Studio 54” b/w “I’m Glad That Elvis Is Dead” – was recorded in 1979 and engineered by Bill McCullough at Track (click on link to view original gatefold images of celebrities in caricature waiting at Studio 54).
  • Howard University‘s Jazz Ensemble (featuring Greg Osby) recorded one album each in 1979 and 1980 at Track.
  • The Slickee Boyswinner 1980 A-side “The Brain That Refused to Die” was recorded at Track, (while the flip side “(Are You Gonna Be There at The) Love-In?” was recorded at Bethesda’s famed Psyche Delly).
  • Black Market Baby‘s forthrightly rocking A-side “America’s Youth” was recorded in 1980 at Track.

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  • Little Feat odds ‘n’ sods compilation released in the Netherlands, 1981’s Hoy-Hoy, includes tracks recorded at ten different studios — including Track.
  • Harvey Reid‘s debut album Nothin’ But Guitar was recorded in 1981 at Track.
  • Tommy Keene‘s Strange Alliance from 1982 – his debut LP – was recorded at Track.
  • Brother Ah & The Sounds of Awareness would record the Key to Nowhere album at Track on July 7, 1983.

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DC-area historian, Marcie Stickle, writing in 2009 about the history of the Cissel-Lee building for Dan Reed’s Just Up the Pike blog, notes that this “significant two-story brick structure was Spanish Colonial Revival, all the ‘rage’ at the time.  With its unique black slate canopies angled around two sides of the roofline, the Cissel-Lee Building was the ONLY remaining such structure in all of the [Central Business District].”

cissel-lee building in its current incarnation (sans spanish colonial):  Urban ButcherTrack Recorders - 2016

Silver Spring Music History Moment:  Linda Ronstadt at Track

This bit from Bob Kirsch’s “Studio Track” Billboard column in the April 27, 1974 edition:

Bill Tate, owner of Track Recording, Inc. in Silver Spring, Md., reports that Linda Ronstadt was in recently for three sessions.  Lowell George handled the production and also played on the sessions.  George Massenburg handled the engineering.  Columbia’s David Bromberg also played.  Track has recently put in a new quadrasonic control room, complete with a custom built Neve console.  David Harrison of Studio Supply in Nashville designed.  Finally, local bluegrass group Seldom Scene was in working on sessions.”

Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals – hitchhiking along the Potomac near Memorial BridgeTrack Recorders LP-h

You Could Be Track Recorders’ Next Recording Engineer!
Full text of ad from August, 1973 edition of dB Magazine

WANTED: RECORDING ENGINEER  $12,000 – $18,000/yr.  Negotiable

  • Do you have a total knowledge of all aspects of audio recordings?
  • Can you appreciate all forms of rock and soul and get along with all types of personalities?
  • Can you take raw musical talent and convert it into a sellable product on tape?
  • Do you know the sound of a hit?  Do you want to cut hits?  Do you want success badly enough to eat every top selling single and LP you’re not on?
  • ln short, are you a born winner?
  • If you can honestly answer “yes” to all the above, we want you to join us and we’ll pay whatever’s fair.  Track Recorders has had eight national chart records in the last year.  Washington, D.C. is the last major music frontier and we’re the leaders.  Our studio has all the standard quality equipment — 3M 16-track, 25-in/16-out custom console, EMT reverb, JBL 4320 monitors, Dolby, Kepex, varispeed, grand piano, Hammond B3 organ, amps, drums, excellent test gear and maintenance.  Your weekends will generally be free.  The Washington area offers great entertainment plus Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean.

Call or write to: TRACK RECORDERS, INC.
8226 Georgia Ave. #11-2, Silver Spring, Md. 20910.  (301) KL5-xxxx”

[click on triangle below to activate recording]

“We the People” (A+B SIDES)    The Soul Searchers (with Chuck Brown)     1972

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYksH7dxwuE

“We the People” (not to be confused with the Allen Toussaint composition) was co-written by Chuck Brown and hit #40 on the R&B Chart, spending a total of six weeks on the chart.

Track Recorders:  The Toddler Years
This bit from Sam Sutherland’s “Studio Track” Billboard column in the June 17, 1972 edition:

“From Silver Springs [sic], Md., Track Recorders has noted activities there.  That studio was D.C.’s only 8-track facility when it opened two years ago, and, last November, they became Washington’s first 16-track facility.  A custom-designed board built and designed by the studio’s personnel, uses API and Suburban Sound components.  The 16-track machine is 3M, and both the main studio (there are two rooms, but the second is incomplete) and the control room have been redesigned acoustically, with modifications now underway.

Founders Cotter Wells, Bill Tate, and Jim [Sennott] have been aiming the studio at the area’s local musicians, but they are now broadening their work to include outside artists, and in-house productions are also being considered.  Chief engineer and “small owner” (his words) Cory Pearson reported sessions by The Masked Men, produced for Musicor Records by Jim Burston; CarrCee Productions recording The Soul Searchers for Sussex; Van McCoy‘s productions for Whitehouse Productions and Mike Auldridge, working on a Takoma album [i.e., label owned by John Fahey].”

On Tuesday, May 25, 1971, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Track Recorders Incorporated – as this link shows – by Track Recorders, Inc.  The trademark registration for Track, sadly, expired on June 7, 1993.

SONS OF THUNDER‘s Steve Halverson at Track Recorders – July, 1972

Track Recorders - July 1972Bob Brown Remembers:  Track Recorders

Once upon a time in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C., in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s there was a recording facility called Track Recorders.  If you wanted to make a record locally at that time you pretty much had two choices; if you lived in the southern suburbs of Northern Virginia you probably went to Bias Studios but if you lived north of the District (which I did) you gravitated toward Track.  Track was my Polaris.  As an aspiring ‘session player’ it was the shining point around which my life seemed to revolve.  Many a well‐known artist had at some time recorded there; Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and many others had all contributed to its reputation as a world-­class facility.  I even once stumbled face to face into Donald Fagen who was there scouting out Root Boy Slim, another regular client at Track who’s notoriously wonderful demos (recorded there) had begun to attract the attention of major labels on the other coast.

There were many reasons to work there.  They had great recording gear, the main studio room sounded great with a rock band or a string section and the Kawai grand piano remains, in my recollection, one of the best of its type anywhere.  But the real reason to work there I think was the presence of two extremely talented and (for the time) accomplished pros; engineer, Bill McCullough and engineer, producer, musician and songwriter, Mark Greenhouse.  This team had worked together on numerous projects and was able to give aspiring artists a chance to, with minimal financial investment, make high quality demos and local records that transcended the normal standards of such ‘products.’  I’m sure it was Mark who introduced me to Bob Brown (as he was then known).

Another View of Track Recorders – July, 1972 – Courtesy of SONS OF THUNDERTrack Recorders - July 1972-b

John Kelly‘s review of Track Recorders from his DC-MD-VA studio overview
in the November 6, 1987 edition of The Washington Post

TRACK RECORDERS — 8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.  589-4349.  $65/hour.

“Track just celebrated its 18th birthday and the list of major acts who have recorded there make it one of the most venerable studios in town.  Track alumni include Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Jimi Hendrix.  Local musicians, including Teresa Gunn, Random Samples and the Cultevaders, also take advantage of Track’s services. According to vice president/studio manager Mark Greenhouse, Track also runs its own vanity record label (it’s called, appropriately, Vanity Records).  The acts on Vanity put up the money themselves and are rewarded with an ultra-slick package that includes record, sleeve and promotional advice.  8-TRACK.”

Further Reading:  Track Recorders

John Kelly‘s March 14, 2015 column in The Washington Post that reveals the history behind the 1983 jingle for Mattress Discounters — a musical ad that haunts to this day.

Richard Harrington‘s August 13, 1986 Washington Post celebration of Track’s sixteenth birthday — and in which we learn that The Allman Brothers recorded an unreleased 15/8 instrumental jam (“Chet’s Tune”) and that Track’s staff were musicians too, thus “the work has a certain spirit and attitude, reflecting a more intense personal relationship between technicians and musicians,” according to Mark Greenhouse.

Richard Harrington‘s December 27, 1981 Washington Post piece about the recording of a live Nighthawks album at The Bayou by Bill McCullough of Track Recorders.

Bill Nowlin‘s history behind the recording of J.D. Crowe and the New South — an iconic album (re-released in 2016), and one that helped establish Rounder Records’ reputation.

Wilfully Obscure‘s ruminations (parts one & two) about the recording of Tommy Keene’s Strange Alliance album.

Fats Domino once recorded an album in 1982 at Track – or was it Big Mo in Kensington? Does anyone know which of the two Montgomery County studios it was?  (Marc D’Amico , as well as Track’s own Bill McCullough both concur:  Fats recorded at Track!  See comments at the end of the piece)

RUSS ‘N’ PAUL (inner sleeve):  in 1979 riding then new DC MetrorailTrack Recorders - Russ 'n' Paul

Excerpt from the NOVEMBER 22, 1975 EDITION OF ANISTON, ALABAMA’S STAR NEWSPAPER

Midnight Lightning — Posthumous Hendrix album coming

“Once [producer Alan] Douglas had winnowed the 3,000 hours down to four hours of especially promising material, the tapes were turned over to [partner Tony] Bongiovi, who was expected to reduce the four hours of raw stock to the final product an eight-song, 36-minute album that will be entitled Midnight Lightning.

Bongiovi and his co-workers at Track Recorders, especially staff engineer ‘Obie’ O’Brien and session musician Lance Quinn, have gone to extraordinary lengths in their attempt to remain faithful to what seem to be Hendrix’s intentions.  Guitarist Quinn played a Fender Stratocaster, the same model that Hendrix used, for all his overdubs, and brought the strings down half a step to the F flat [!] tuning that Hendrix favored.  ‘But when we came in we weren’t trying to copy what he did or to make somebody sound like him,’ said Bongiovi.’  ‘We were trying to match the sound of the record.  So Hendrix is the star of the album; we just had to fill in all the air that was on the record with what Jimi had planned to put on later.’

And that’s why relatively anonymous session men like Quinn, drummer Alan Schwartzberg, and bassist Bob Babbit were used on Midnight Lightning. ‘We didn’t want to use any soloist guitarists like a Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton,’ says Bongiovi.  ‘Imagine if we had them on the album – they’re stars in their own right.  It would have ended up a guitar duel, and that’s not fair because Jimi’s not really here to defend himself.”

But even without the opportunity to solo and show off a bit, Quinn, a disciple of Washington’s Roy Buchanan and an admirer of England’s Jeff Beck, finds the Hendrix sessions rewarding.  ‘In some spots,’ says the corpulent [!] guitarist, ‘it was almost like playing in a band with him.  And you get a chance to hear him in situations that don’t turn up on record.  When we listened to the tapes, we heard the parts people never hear on record.  Some of the ideas he tried were amazingly creative things that might not work on record but which, as a guitar player, I could appreciate.  The guy was unbelievable.  He could really play guitar.  It wasn’t just that he had mastered the wah-wah pedal, feedback and the other effects.  He was a really great guitar player who took something that no one ever did before.  He just jumped into the space age all of a sudden instead of just playing rock & roll.  He was the most creative there ever was.  You can hear it in every note he played.”

“Recorded at Track Recorders – Washington, DC” — oops, close enoughTrack Recorders 45-ee

Crowd-sourcing the history:  What other notable recordings deserve to be posted here?

Ali: “The People’s Choice”

Muhammad Ali enjoyed such worldwide popularity, I’m surprised The Champ didn’t release more recordings over the course of his career, aside from two albums, a handful of singles, and, of course, the Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay LPs:

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Ali would launch his national campaign for dental health with a boxing match against the “pride of Cavityville” – Mr. Tooth Decay – on the grounds of the Washington Monument, as reported in the November 4, 1979 edition of the Washington Post:

“Yesterday’s match was sponsored free of charge, by A&P supermarkets, which will be distributing an album on tooth decay called May the Brush Be With You.  It features the voices of Ali, Frank Sinatra, Billie Jean King, Lily Tomlin and President Carter.  Most of the proceeds will go to charity — and the rest to Ali.”

Ali LP-b1Ali’s second full-length release (one of Billboard’s “recommended” soul albums in its  October 30, 1976 edition) would coincide with the nation’s bicentennial, hence the subtitle of the title track, “Ali’s Bicentennial Freedom Song.”

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Zero to 180 is hoping someone can identify Muhammad Ali’s partner (i.e., “The Best Ever”) on this 1975 Polydor single A-side “The People’s Choice” that might possibly have been – oddly enough – for the European market only:

Ali 45-c1Click on triangle below to hear “The People’s Choice”

“The People’s Choice”     The Best Ever and Muhammad Ali     1975

Germany’s Trikont label would gather many rare and hard-to-find Ali-related songs in 2003 in a CD entitled Hits and Misses:  Muhammad Ali and the Ultimate Sound of Fistfighting:

  1. Muhammad Ali”     Tom Russell     [2003]
  2. 8ième Round”     Trio Madjesi     [1976?]
  3. Cassius Marcellus Clay”     Jorge Ben     [1971]
  4. The Ballad Of Cassius Clay”     The Alcoves     [1964]
  5. Muhammad Ali”     Sir Mack Rice     [1976]
  6. Foreman Ali Welcome To Kinshasa”     G.O. Malebo Orch.    [1974]
  7. The People’s Choice”     The Best Ever & Muhammad Ali     [1975]
  8. “You’re The Greatest”     Bette McLaurin     [1964]
  9. Muhammad Ali”     Dennis Alcapone     [1975]
  10. He Is He”     Page Scherer     [?]
  11. The Louisville Lip”     Eddie Curtis     [1971]
  12. Rumble In The Jungle”     Don Covay     [1974]
  13. Muhammad Ali”     Liberated Brother     [1975]
  14. Cassius Clay”     Dennis Alcapone     [1973]
  15. Foreman vs Frazier”     Big Youth     [1973]
  16. Muhammad Ali”     Mr. Calypson     [1971]
  17. Muhammad Ali”     Verne Harrell     [1971]
  18. Ali Shuffle”    J.W. Grasshopper & the Butterfly     [1974]
  19. Try It Again”     Joe Frazier     [1974]
  20. I’m The Greatest”     Muhammad Ali     [1976]
  21. Bommaye”     Pupi Y Su Charanga     [1975]

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Behind the Mic:  A Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali Discography

Extra Rounds with The Champ!

“Doin’ the Ali Shuffle”     Alvin Cash     1967

“linger on (Cassius clay)”     Prince buster     1965

“Ali Bom-Ba-Ye”     Michael Masser & Mandrill     1977

Honorable Mention

Skeeter Davis     “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter”     1969

“I’m a lover not a fighter, I kinda like it that way.
If you want a a fighting partner, go live with Cassius Clay.”

Ali LP-xClancy Eccles 45 from 1964 “I’m the Greatest” sells for three figures

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